They Called Her Vivaldi
A Bucketful Of Miracles
Something wonderful this way comes in Theatre Lovett’s extraordinary “They Called Her Vivaldi,” currently running at the Peacock stage of the Abbey Theatre Ward of The Cobblewashers Guild, following its hugely successful national tour. A small, gentle gem of a play, written by Louis Lovett, “They Called Her Vivaldi” has the power to restore your faith. In humanity, in theatre, in yourself; take your pick. If you ever questioned why the Abbey Theatre would invite some of our major companies to perform their best known works at the national theatre, wonder no more. “They Called Her Vivaldi” is so good you won’t even want to blink. Striking, stunning, superbly sublime, superlatives seem senseless seeing something so special.
In the pizza shaped town of Triste, perfectly quartered by a series of canals, Cecilia Maria and her elderly father run a small haberdashery shop. He’s a purveyor of buckets, she a writer of the most magical music. Songs she hears just by looking at each customer. So marvelous is her musical prowess, the townspeople call her Vivaldi. Yet she is also such a delicate creature. Like a highly tuned radio receiver, Vivaldi is extremely sensitive to sounds. Unable to manage the overload of noise that rushes at her from the street outside, she never leaves the premises. Not even when wearing her faithful Capello, a becoming chapeau designed to protect her ears. Yet life is still good for Vivaldi. Until the fateful night when a thief makes off with Capello as the Zephyr dell Peccadillo rushes along the dark, cobbled stones of Triste. A curious cat burglar who steals oddities like oars, salt, and scissors. To reclaim her protection Vivaldi must find her way to the Pool of a Thousand Tears. But in a darkened city where it’s best to be pickpocketed by Mister Blue, where men love mermaids and over salt their pizza, the biggest riddle might not be quite what you thought it was. And whether you find tears of sorrow or tears of joy awaiting you, might have less to do with what happens than with what you've come to understand.
Co-directed by Carl Kennedy and Muireann Ahern, “They Called Her Vivaldi,” is a theatrical treat. Richly layered, its sheer attention to detail is just staggeringly good, right down to the lovingly detailed programme. Lovett’s superbly crafted script, weaving rhymes and rhythms throughout, wonderfully evokes a fairytale sensibility as well as a flowing musicality. Carl Kennedy’s sound design, along with his original score, co-composed with Lovett, is pitch perfect, whether engaged in a symphonic sweep or hinting of 1950’s Doo Wop. Set and lighting design by Zia Bergin-Holly offers a master class in design brilliance, assisted by prop maker and scenic artist Molly O' Cathrin, one built upon the power of simplicity and suggestibility. Two attributes beautifully reflected in two extraordinary performances.
Genevieve Hulme-Beaman, stepping into the role as toured by the excellent Julie Maguire, is remarkable as the vibrant Vivaldi, a young woman weird in the most wonderful of ways. Squinting her concentration while conducting her sounds, her body articulates her story as much, if not more, than the words themselves. As does Louis Lovett as the rest of “They Called Her Vivaldi’s” excellent cast. Whether as Vivaldi’s rickety father, the shows natural narrator, the pizza prince Vesuvio, the mermaid loving Johnny, the music loving barber or the mysterious Mister Blue, Lovett is masterful throughout, riveting and unforgettable in practically every scene.
They say Theatre Lovett: works for all. With “They Called Her Vivaldi” it most certainly does. Throughout, it’s so evidently clear the rigour and hard work that’s been undertaken in constructing this minor masterpiece. You feel it in every scene, every moment, like a luscious Christmas pudding, offering so many new tastes and textures with each new bite. Indeed, if the proof is in the pudding, “They Called Her Vivaldi” will leave you with a permanent grin. Unquestionably a joy any time of year, “They Called Her Vivaldi” is a uniquely perfect joy for this time of year. So don’t live a half-life. Go see “They Called Her Vivaldi,” and treat yourself, your loved one, and your family, to a most gorgeous night of theatre.
“They Called Her Vivaldi” written by Louis Lovett, produced by Theatre Lovett, runs at The Peacock Stage of the Abbey Theatre until December 23rd