Friday, February 23, 2007


Iestyn Edwards at the Cramphorn Theatre


Life imitates art. A troupe of 13st Russian ballerinas starts a UK tour this week, playing the big ballets for laughs.

Madame Galina got there first, hilariously ticking the funding boxes, dancing better than ever, and auditioning hapless hopefuls – well done, Nigel – for La Bayadere.

Perhaps it’s rubbing up against all those squaddies in her new role as Forces’ Sweetheart – she’s danced in Iraq and Afghanistan since she was last in Chelmsford – but the masterclass seemed a little coarser: we certainly needed the “gone too far” monitor in the front row.

While she did her slap and her stretches in the Green Room, Iestyn Edwards warmed us up with an artless, affectionate autobiography. From Southwark Cathedral to Aldeburgh, with portraits of his Country and Western father, stage psychic mother, and his Aunt Sophia, who surely merits a show of her own.

A crazy crossover mix of music, too, with his own piano accompaniment. Cole Porter, Ave Maria, Feed the Birds. The Queen loved it, apparently.

I found it fascinating, poised between the knowing and the naïve, the touching and the tawdry.