Last night I was treated to one of the most delightful shows I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Gigi is a play based on a French novel written in the early 1940s, which on the face of it sounds terribly dull. Dull this play is not. Following the story of a teenager during the time of her ‘coming out’, we watch the character of Gigi turn from a youthful and free-spirited teenager into a woman. We witness her laugher, heartbreak and triumph and I found myself, at numerous points throughout, on the edge of my seat with tears in my eyes and the next second laughing aloud. It is a simple and beautiful tale and is all arranged around a most magnificent and surprisingly elaborate set for such a tiny theatre space.
I rarely go to the theatre with expectations. I strive never to read a synopsis and especially not a review before going to see a performance, leaving me open-minded to surmise my own conclusion. I want to be surprised. Alas I rarely am, being someone who sees a vast array of theatre and who surprises very infrequently. However the quality of every aspect of this play is so outstanding that, admittedly, I was surprised and speechless. It is so fantastic that it got under my skin; it hit me as hard as if Sonny Bill Williams had just thrown a ball straight to my stomach. The vitality and excitement on stage is electric and contagious. Every second is detailed and invigorating. There are no bells and whistles; this is traditional theatre refreshingly done to its best – and my, was it fun to watch!
The play is acted to such perfection that all I was capable of doing was sitting back and watching, completely vulnerable to the world these outstanding actors have created. The incredible talent that is Daisy May plays the title role. Her energy, spark and vibrancy hit you as soon as she makes her first entrance. She inhabits the role of Gigi from head to toe and is believable, engaging and enchanting. It is an extremely impressive performance, and I shall remember Miss May and be looking out for her name in the future. The chemistry between herself and Richard Lynson as Gaston is delicious. What more do you want to see from two actors but that authentic spark that comes so close to real life? Lynson is charismatic and sincere, completing this enigmatic duo perfectly. Zoe Simon, Prue Clarke, Zoe Teverson, John Sears and Pamela Miles make up the rest of the superb cast: Lucy Jenkins and Sooki Mcshane must be given credit for finding such an outstanding group of actors. The standard of acting is exceptionally high and the level of detail displayed in each of these actors’ work a delight to watch. Mark Giesser has done phenomenal work with this remarkable cast.
The pure quality of this performance is quite simply outstanding. My only fear is that not enough people will get the pleasure of seeing it, because had this been a West End show I suspect it would have been highly revered. It is an all-round triumph, perfectly cast, wonderfully directed, beautifully designed and spectacularly acted. What more can I really say – I loved it! Who would have thought that tucked away above a small pub in west London is this jewel of a play, and oh how lucky I feel to have found it.
Gigi is playing at the Tabard Theatre until 21 November. For more information and tickets, see the Tabard Theatre website. Photo: Alces Productions