Despite likeable performances and the larger than life presence of Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan, this show from Belvoir and Black Swan State Theatre company really is something of a wasted opportunity.
The programme notes reveal that writer Tony Briggs’ Yorta Yorta mother Laurel and a couple of her cousins really did move from the country to Melbourne where they performed their close harmonies at the Tiki Village nightclub and – and here’s the potentially interesting bit – she and her sister
subsequently spent three months touring Vietnam as the Sapphires in the late 60’s.
Briggs throws in a few politically pointed comments – both about the status of Aboriginal women in their native land and the plight of the Vietnamese in their own war-torn country – and some tart repartee.
But much of the writing is lazy, and, though differentiated, the four who make up this feisty, fictionalised Sapphire quartet are pretty one-dimensional – they sing and they have various degrees of man trouble.
Ultimately, then, this is mainly an excuse to belt out some of the era’s irresistible Motown hits (and a scattering of traditional songs, too) and on this level Neil Armfield’s production with its five-strong on-stage band is a definite success – earning a standing ovation from a satisfied crowd at a Sunday matinee.
020 7638 8891
Until March 12
£16 – £28
– Louise Kingsley