Wednesday, 18 November 2015
Theatre review: Thirty Million Minutes
French is something of a national treasure with a warm public persona, which is why I wanted to catch her show; she establishes her self-deprecating, confessional style at the the opening when she admits she's doing this show because she suspects this is a brief period of lucidity between menopause and dementia.
As well as a lot of inevitably funny moments, including a few stories over-sharing her and her family's medical issues, there's also more heartfelt and emotional moments. Most effective is the story of her father's suicide when she was 19, the only time French stops talking and stands back as her recorded voice takes up the narrative.
On the downside, the show is very rambling and unstructured, and I wish director Michael Grandage had helped tighten it up a bit more - the end is a particularly haphazard collection of thoughts on her two marriages before the show comes to an abrupt conclusion, and with it overrunning by nearly half an hour tonight it felt increasingly like it could have done with a couple more rewrites. Nice to spend a couple of hours with a much-loved personality, but while tonight's performance clearly connected with the audience, the laid-back and rambling narrative doesn't match the glitzy presentation and Lez Brotherston's slick design.
Thirty Million Minutes by Dawn French is booking until the 5th of December at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Running time: 2 hours 25 minutes including interval.