Daily Mail critic's slating of Piaf at Curve Leicester rejected by theatre-goers
A theatre critic has slated Curve's production of Piaf as "over-amplified" and "over-cooked" and compared star Frances Ruffelle to Sybil Fawlty.
The Daily Mail's Quentin Letts criticised the show's sound levels, set and dialogue.
However, theatre-goers rushed to defend the play and leading lady.
Mr Letts wrote in yesterday's Daily Mail: "No need to travel to Leicester to catch Frances Ruffelle's performance as Edith Piaf.
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"It is so loud, so madly over-amplified, that you should be able to hear it motoring up the M1."
The show telling how Edith Piaf rose from the streets of Paris to the international stage opened on Friday.
Mr Letts, the Mail's theatre critic since 2004, had very few kind words to say about the production, focusing his scorn on the "ridiculously-high" sound levels.
"This show is being staged in the Curve's studio, a space just about small enough for intimacy, yet everyone is miked," he wrote.
"The decibels are so ear-splitting that several times my spine straightened in a wince, as though electrocuted.
"The performance starts at top volume, proceeds to top volume and ends at top volume. Shading? Pah!
"He and Miss Ruffelle (in an appearance resembling Sybil Fawlty) blast through the thing top-parp-lorry-horn."
He also criticised the "broad, empty stage" and language "so strong an elderly person near me started tutting".
The only saving graces, were Tiffany Graves who "just about survives" as Marlene Dietrich, and Piaf's story, which "like her songs, retains potency".
Curve artistic director Paul Kerryson responded: "I love Piaf, I love our cast and audiences are flocking in from all over Leicestershire and the rest of the country."
On Twitter, theater-goers jumped to the defence of the show, which runs until March 16.
joepiriescott said of the review: "Absolute rubbish. The show was fantastic. Who believes what they read in the Mail anyway."
MikefromLFE said: "Piaf was the best show I've seen (London or Leicester) in a very long time – amazing characterisation."
Mercury reviewer Lizz Brain said in her own review of the show: "It is perhaps a flaw of the sometimes disjointed play, rather than Ruffelle's performance, that we don't truly connect with Piaf or empathise with her tragedy.
"Kerryson has surrounded her with sterling support too – Stephen Webb's Charles Aznavour, Russell Morton's devoted Theo, Laura Pitt-Pulford as Piaf's best friend Toine all providing distinctive and notable performances."
She added: "Ben Harrison's sound design allows us to dip seamlessly between backstage and concert performance."
Liz praised Ruffelle for bringing "the Little Sparrow back to life".
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