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Fanny - Watermill Theatre REVIEW

It’s always a tricky moment when your thoughts and feelings don’t align with the masses on a show, but I have to remind myself that theatre is subjective and I’d be doing a disservice to myself and readers if I wasn’t truthful with my thoughts. 

I can fully appreciate the work, thought, effort and creativity poured into this show, however, I found the tone and overall feel of the piece a little forced and tacky. This may have been due to the direction or style of humour used throughout, although I am always in favour of a good pun and daft wordplay, of which there is an abundance. 

The cast are all brilliant but I think the slightly over-the-top slapstick feel sometimes jarred heavily with the 18th-century setting. Some of the scenes felt slightly dragged out as well, meaning the story lulled at key moments. 

The story follows the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn and his sister Fanny who is hidden in the shadow of his limelight. It is quickly discovered that Queen Victoria’s favourite song from Felix’s collection was actually written by Fanny, a budding composer herself. So off she heads to England to perform for the Queen but unfortunately the life she’s trying to escape quickly catches up with her. 

It’s easy to sympathise with Fanny, a bright, witty girl who is now being forced down the life of domestication. Her zesty energy is infectious and she’s brilliantly grounded as a character full of pomp and circumstance. The engaging Charlie Russell leads the cast well in the titular role. 

The evening ended wonderfully with a beautifully crafted moment which was born from the Watermill issuing invitations to women musicians to take part in the Irish tradition of the Noble Call. This is a tradition of calling on guests at a party to share a song, or a poem, on this evening we were treated to a very special performance from a lady who had a song composed for her by a relative and was premiering it for us. You could hear a pin drop; true theatre magic. 

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