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From the Mouths of Babes
DIRECTOR: Malcolm Purkey
CAST: Naami Gottlieb Lieberman, Sivan Raphaely, Sharon Spiegel-Wagner
VENUE: Golden Arrow Theatre, Baxter Theatre
UNTIL: January 5
An evening of melodious a cappella singing interwoven with anecdotes varying from poignant to humorous is a recipe for excellent entertainment, and there is little to fault in the concept behind this charming three-hander from a comely ensemble of young Jewish women.
There are, however, one or two areas for improvement which would enhance this promising material. The pace needs attention, for one thing: after a captivating start a-crackle with energy, the élan gradually fades to the point where, by the end of the evening, a degree of tedium has set in. It is not pervasive enough to inspire the wish that the show would end, but it comes close.
Then there is the danger, ever-present in an extended recital of personal exper- iences, of self-indulgence, and From the Mouths of Babes is not exempt. If the number of anecdotes was reduced to curtail the show’s length, the initial sparkle and impetus would be sustained to realise its full potential.
These reservations aside, the three-hander remains a very charming piece of entertainment, with the singing its strongest suit. It is a wise move to include translations of the Hebrew lyrics in the programme so that listeners unfamiliar with that language can follow the sense of each song – although the sheer beauty of the harmonies is almost enough in itself to ensure enjoyment.
Each executant has an equal share of the action, bringing her own distinctive personality and narrative style to the collage. Sivan Raphaely is authoritative with a robust sense of humour immediately apparent in her opening anecdote about her mother’s demolition of a chicken; Naami Gottlieb Lieberman is more demure, injecting her recitative with sly self-deprecation (The First Kiss is a case in point). Sharon Spiegel-Wagner has a rare gift for mimicry which she exploits to great effect.
Dark topics like conflict resolution, existential dilemma and nostalgia for things lost are cheek-by-jowl with more frivolous inclusions such as the story of a wannabe kosher kingklip, not always that convincingly – but the warmth of the artists, and the manifest rapport between them, makes this a good-humoured show.