REVIEW: THE BRIDES OF BLUEBEARD (Camden People’s Theatre) ★★★★★
The Brides of Bluebeard is both written and performed by The Ruby Dolls. For the entirety of the play they are each dressed in white wedding dresses, the style of which gives you a clue as to which period the unfortunate bride was married and subsequently murdered.
The Ruby Dolls comprise four beautiful sassy young ladies. Jessica Sedler plays the Journalist who is currently alive and is inadvisedly about to get married to the man called The Bear. Rebecca Shanks is the already dead 60s singer/model/wife killed by The Bear a few years before. Susanna Fiore also plays a pre-murdered wife, who is referred to as the Muse. Tara Siddall plays the glamorous Countess wife, also murdered by the Bear sometime back in the mists of time. Tara also, plays the old wizened hunchbacked housekeeper which is distinctly not type casting. This she achieves by striking an unlikely Richard III pose when she talks which is very funny, and hilariously unbelievable.
The story is a rewriting of a classic French “scarytale” involving a powerful, perennial character, known as The Bear, who has the unfortunate habit of marrying famous young innocent women and then murdering them. It is not known how old he is, but it is suggested by his housekeeper that he once had Ghengis Kahn stay as a guest. Since Kahn was born in 1162 it might be supposed that bear was at least eight hundred years old. You would have thought that he might have grown out of his bad habits by now.
You might ask why the Bear kills his wives, well you would not believe it if I told you, and I don’t want to spoil the surprising ending, however one of the key phrases is “curiosity killed the cat” which is the “key” to the story. Suffice to say that his downfall turns out to be partly due to poor house maintenance. Most folk stories are meant to teach a moral lesson. This in my opinion says that your curiosity can be dangerous. Though secondary warnings might be to avoid people called The Something or other, keep on the good side of the old family Retainer and avoid boyfriends who are over a few hundred years old.
The Ruby Dolls are a critically acclaimed cabaret ensemble who have wonderful voices and sing in perfect harmony. They are also very very funny, have warm personalities and are excellent writers.
The music ranges from Amy Winehouse and David Bowie to Rage Against The Machine as well as specially written music composed by the company, and all of which are sung in four part harmony.
The play is clever, imaginative and very witty. It is interesting and fun. But overall it is a triumph for a very talented group of four young, attractive, women entertainers.
Go and see The Brides Of Bluebeard, it really is worth while, and go and see any subsequent performances by the tremendous Ruby Dolls.
Reviewed by Graham Archer