mon 15/07/2024

Peaches Christ Superstar, Theatre Royal, Brighton | reviews, news & interviews

Peaches Christ Superstar, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Peaches Christ Superstar, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Potty-mouthed Canadian singer makes an unlikely success of Lloyd-Webber

Peaches, going for New Testament gold

It is only when Peaches turns into King Herod that she really becomes the Peaches the audience recognises. A cheer goes up as she jeers, “Prove to me that you’re no fool/Walk across my swimming pool.” She’s mocking, leering, puffed up in a gold coat, her hair shaved at the sides and swept into a giant bouffant on top.

In fact she looks more like the Elvis-ish Pharoah from Rice & Lloyd-Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat than any character from the pair’s self-consciously hip interpretation of the Gospels. She tops it all off by ostentatiously doing the splits to whoops from the crowd.

No-one was quite sure what they were going to see when it was announced that Peaches - AKA confrontational Canadian alt-pop sleaze-mistress Merrill Nisker – would be performing a one person version of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Brighton Festival. It sounded like a gag and it takes a while for the crowd to settle to the idea she expects us to take her seriously, for the titters to die down, as she slowly inhabits the personas of Jesus, Pontius Pilate, Judas and the rest. Anyone hoping for an encore performance of her own “Fuck the Pain Away” tonight is going to be disappointed. There are no stinging electronic beats backing her, only a single blonde male pianist, sat at a grand.

The show comes in two halves. The first is more placid, as Peaches works her way into the story. It would help to be a Superstar fan, overly familiar with the original. I am not but I can recall someone, my sister, I think, playing the album a lot at a young age. I suspect Peaches' ability to memorise the whole thing may be down to a similar juvenile but genuine affection for this music. Certainly, even as she approaches Mary Magdalene’s confused love song to her messiah, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”, ripe for her mockery with its lines about having had “so many men before, in very many ways”, she plays it, as with everything else here, dead straight, allowing her voice an unexpected, high-pitched and feminine vulnerability.

The second half, though, is where things really comes to life. If Part One is all mood lighting and a mist of smoke across the stage, Part Two is all action. There are plants in the audience whose vicious roars of “Crucify him” when Jesus is being tried are shocking. Then, at the very end, a queue forms in the aisles while Peaches is stood upon a platform by two assistants, her arms outstretched at her side to emulate the crucifixion. The rent-a-crowd races up onstage, including two men dressed like Ancient Egyptian strip-o-grams. They cavort about her salaciously and goofily, stopping only to place their palms together in prayer for the chorus, “Jesus Christ, Superstar, do you think you’re what they say you are?”

It’s the only time there's been more than Peaches and her pianist onstage all night. It is an apt, explosive, frolicking conclusion and when it’s over she grins broadly, satisfied, and accepts a standing ovation from the sold out theatre. The show displays a somewhat unexpected side to her talents. Whether this proves to be a brief foray rather than a new direction, it makes for an engaging and novel evening in her company.

Overleaf: Watch a two minute featurette about Peaches Christ Superstar

It takes a while for the crowd to settle to the idea she expects us to take her seriously


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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