Yesterday evening, I had the privilege to attend an 8pm performance of Piaf: Love Conquers All at the Soho Playhouse. The play is structured as a personal narrative, which intermittently gives way to vignettes of the great French chanteuese’s tragic life, all of which are brilliantly portrayed by Emmerson. A less accomplished actress could have succumbed to the quick gear shifts in time and context within the script, but the transitions were absolutely seamless as we were at once able to experience both a retrospective account of Piaf’s life and the events and emotions that made her time on earth so striking. The set design was sparse yet elegant, containing white furniture in a sketched style, and accented only by the color red; quite appropriate for an account of Piaf’s life, often associated with her most famous work, "La Vie en Rose." Featuring 13 songs originally sung by the French songstress ("Non, je ne regrette rien", "Mon Dieu", and others), Piaf provided the audience with the depth of knowledge required to understand the heartache and emotion behind her legendary work, all the while managing to throw in a laugh here and there. Also, it is extremely important not to ignore the beautiful piano stylings of accompanist Carmela Sinco, whose skill and grace complemented the performance immeasurably. I knew very little about Piaf’s life as I stepped into the theater, and I was accompanied by a friend who knew still less than I. I would like to note that both of us have been listening to "The Legendary Edith Piaf" since we’ve woken up this morning.
Piaf: Love Conquers All is running as a special limited engagement at the Soho Playhouse, closing on January 20th. Tickets are still available online at www.sohoplayhouse.com, and I assure you, it will be money well-spent.