I was fairly exhausted after reviewing 16 Fringe Festival shows in the last month when Ashleigh Kreveld contacted me I was reticent but although I could only manage to fit in her final show I am so glad I did.
The Moon is a room behind the enormously popular bar cum café of the same name. It was packed and I am told every show of Frankly Winehouse has been sold out and they have had to put in extra seating.
Tom New on keyboards provided terrific support for Kreveld adapting to the various styles of songs cleverly.
A very credible Winehouse lookalike, Kreveld strolled through the room to the stage and swung into Back to Black. Her voice is excellent and strong. She has the vocal mannerisms of Winehouse pitch perfect.
The script moved from Winehouse’s parents, troubled school background and early depression at 13 and was seamlessly blended into a gorgeous version of Round Midnight.
Always a loud presence she decided to try for Drama School and got in. Then she was offered a place in an all-girl big band. Winehouse decided it was not her thing, but the producers offered her some solo recording time and the next thing she had management and a burgeoning career. At 19 she started writing her own material “Because there was nothing else I wanted to hear.”
By now jazz was clearly her oeuvre and she started attracting a lot of media attention. I would imagine Winehouse might briefly have revelled in this but it quickly palled and Kreveld (as Winehouse) was scathing in her dismissal of celebrity status and the mingling with other artists, only to find them extraordinarily dull in person.
Kreveld’s dialogue is right on the mark as the audience begins to see the vulnerability and lack of confidence in Winehouse underneath the bluster and tawdry glam. True she is a Jewish girl from North London but she made much of herself as a blunt, rude speaking oddity in such circles.
Then there’s Blake, the much vilified lover later husband, who introduces the already keen booze hound to harder stuff. He becomes another of her dangerous addictions. Tom New provided a lovely retro accompaniment to the heartfelt To Know Him is to Love Him. The paparazzi are ever intruding and Winehouse moves to her new mantra “Less thinking, more drinking.”
Blake is jailed and receives an extra 12 month sentence. Winehouse falls into further despair and ironically the song Rehab becomes a worldwide hit. On holiday in St Lucia, Winehouse receives international press attention because of a casual sexual liaison. Blake files for divorce. Kraveld mourns with the poignant Love is a Losing Game. There is further misery with the disastrous half-finished European tour, forced upon her by her father and management, cue Wake up Alone.
After this Winehouse appears to rally and Kraveld and New celebrate with Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and the unforgettable hit Valerie. The brief post-death dialogue was masterfully handled. This is a fascinating portrait by a skilled singer and actor and accompanist. A witty and moving farewell to the Fringe!
2016 Perth Fringe World Festival
Venue: The Moon | 2/323 William Street, Northbridge WA
Dates: 15 – 21 February 2016