Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood
Victoria Wood was a unique comic talent and news of her death in 2016 was a profound shock to her legions of adoring fans. We felt the loss as though it were our own. She was one of us. We laughed and cried together. We felt we knew her. She was our friend. She shaped more than a generation and her loss to cancer, at the age of 62, is still keenly felt. Her connection to audiences remains unrivalled.
'Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood', written and performed by Paulus (cabaret star Paul Martin) and directed by Sarah-Louise Young, is a joyful and celebratory show which is a fitting tribute to the late, great Victoria in all her northern glory. With the aid of a selection of well received in-jokes (Dicky bladder, aphrodisiac prawns) Paulus, like Victoria, establishes an easy rapport with the audience.
The song selection is a reminder of the incredible range of this multi-talented comedian, singer, composer, writer and actress. Paulus delivers the more comic numbers (Saturday Night, At the Chippy, It Would Never Have Worked) in gloriously cheeky style whilst more sombre songs (Crush, Go With It, Love Song) poignantly capture the pain and sadness which simmers under the surface of much of the work of this national treasure.
Paulus is joined on stage by musical director Michael Roulston who doubles brilliantly as pianist and banter buddy. Their shared affection for Victoria shines through in every exchange: "Here's your beef tea, Derek", "We'd like to apologise to our viewers in the north. It must be awful for them" and Dinnerladies classic: "Men and women have different brains. It was in the Daily Mail. Women can’t fold maps, and men can’t get interested in headboards.”
There is a compassion and generosity in Victoria Wood's writing which, as well as being hilarious, may explain why she remains one of the UK's most cherished comedians. A host of strong women characters helped to pave the way for new generations of female performers, and she continues to provide inspiration for comedians and writers. Paulus' delight in her language is clear: he revels in the wit and rhythms of her perfectly chosen words. Garibaldi. Swarfega. Hermesetas.
'Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood' is a lovingly curated homage to someone we all felt we knew and who is very much missed. What a delight to spend an hour immersed in her songs and briefly have her back. A must-see for fans and newcomers alike.
TheatreWhippet saw ‘Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood’ at The Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham. Tour details and further information: https://thecabaretgeek.com/looking-for-me-friend/