ImageWhere: Vaudeville Theatre, Strand, London WC2

When: Monday – Saturday: 7.30pm / Wednesday & Saturday Matinees: 2.30pm

How much: £25.00, £37.50, £47.50, £52.50 (cheaper tickets can be found online)

How long: Show lasts approximately 2hrs 20mins including 1 interval

Running until: 28th April

Merchandise: Small programme

Review performance date: Monday 30th January 2012

Nearest Tube station
Charing Cross/Embankment

Nearest Rail station
Charing Cross

Website: Vaudeville Theatre

Seating chart

“can you stop eating those crisps please?”

The opening phrase from act two of Master Class.  Not from the stage, but from the man in the second to back row, who having musically blown his way through an entire box of tissues in act 1 seemed to suddenly notice that you could hear a pin drop and honed in on a crisp muncher in the row in front. This got me thinking, why do theatres sell crisps? Ice creams are a perfectly good choice for a theatre, quiet and inoffensive but bags of sweets and crisps do beg the question as to who’s bright idea it was to sell them, especially in a dramatic piece like this.

One week into the previews at the Vaudeville theatre on the strand, this show makes you realise what acting really means.

Cagney and Lacey star Tyne Daly is Maria callas, the opera singer who decided to try her hand at teaching, after her voice and her husband left her. A few wannabe performers come to sing for Maria hoping to leave with (if nothing else) advise on how to ‘make it’ in the business and follow in her footsteps. Maria likes to talk and frustratingly but comically lets the students do and say very little, critiquing their every breath. Occasionally drifting off in her mind to recall times she was onstage and the thoughts that were with her. These dark moments give an insight that there is a real person inside the cold exterior of Maria Callas.

Touted at 2012s ‘End of the Rainbow’, this story doesn’t quite match the trauma of Judy Garlands life but does show a similar amount of passion and energy in its performance that leaves you exiting the theatre feeling exhausted and wondering how she performs that every night. I guess that’s what they call ‘real’ acting.

A breath taking performance, a sheer Master Class.