Until 18 Mar 2018

Review by Sarah Westgarth

Created and performed by Michaela Burger and Greg Wain, “Exposing Edith” is a tribute and celebration of the life and works of Edith Piaf, taking us on a journey from her humble beginnings as a street performer to selling out the biggest venues in the world. Burger tells us Piaf’s story, singing through her biggest hits to other lesser known numbers, as Wain accompanies her on the guitar. These two exceptional musicians fill The Octagon with the soulful, fiery sounds of Piaf’s repertoire, and it’s a treat to listen to. Burger’s diminutive stature and classical looks, not to mention her extraordinary pipes, brings Piaf to life again, and the strongest parts of the show are when she takes on Edith’s persona.

The first half of “Exposing Edith” takes a little while to get going – the first full musical number isn’t performed until fifteen minutes in – and part of this is the dryness of the script. Exploring the ups and downs of such a passionate and dynamic woman should have a raucous energy, but when Burger is playing herself recalling the details of Piaf’s life, there’s a lack of character, and stops it from being compelling as it should be. It’s when Burger starts performing and speaking as Piaf that the show really lifts and becomes something truly special, as the audience gets a sense of what this extraordinary woman was like. Told from the perspective of Piaf at the end of her days, the show would have been stronger and more seamless. As it is, “Exposing Edith” is still a masterclass of cabaret, and really deserved a more appropriate, intimate venue to do it justice.

Burger and Wain’s musicality is a true wonder to behold, and Burger’s crowd work as Piaf was the highlight of the evening. “Exposing Edith” is an honest portrait of a complicated, zesty, immensely talented woman who was always unapologetically herself, featuring some of the finest renditions of her music you will ever have the pleasure of hearing.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)