I was really looking forward to seeing this sold-out show – and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed. But I didn’t leave the Donmar feeling as elated as I thought I would.
It’s no fault of this production that it has to follow the superb film La Vie En Rose, which kind of renders Pam Gems’ play slightly redundant. And Elena Roger has the physical presence (her slight build perfect for Piaf) and awe-inspiring voice to carry it off. But it was often hard to understand her heavy Argentinean accent, and this, combined with nearly 50% of the show consisting of Piaf’s wonderful songs sung in French, leaves a slim percentage of the production in English.
I know I risk sounding like a luddite for voicing my opinion about the songs being sung in French, but another joy of the film was being able to appreciate the subtitled lyrics.
Overall I love Elena – and long may she remain in London to take on equally challenging parts – but Gems’ patchy play, and a slightly muddled production, left me a little disappointed.