In The Vaults, fringe theatre has a true home. Hosting the Vaults Festival every year, the venue has established a reputation for supporting brilliant work. So comes Shida by Jeannette Bayardelle, for its UK premier. Originally performed off-Broadway, the show arrives in South London for a 4 week run, writes Christopher Peacock.

One man/woman shows can be hard to keep the audience enthralled for long periods of time. The idea of a one-handed musical has always given me the impression of a concert, an evening with…Adele or Diana Ross, not a musical so to speak. So I was pleased to have my view examined by a punchy performance piece.

The key to the show lies entirely with writer and performer Jeannette Bayardelle. The story of a working class girl from a broken home in New York, and the drama and toils often seen in female working class stories, is carried on the shoulders of her amazing talent. Well-handled multi-rolling keeps the narrative moving between songs, however, it is in these musical numbers where her skill truly shines. Her impressive vocals bring the story to life, and even if the moves become a little repetitive, you cannot deny the vocal quality and control.

Having gone down with rave reviews when originally produced off-Broadway, it comes as no surprise how slick and well run the performance is. As a tool to show Bayerdelle’s many talents, it is the perfect vehicle. 

Those looking for a show that will stay with them for days may find more powerful watches elsewhere, but a finer musical theatre performance could be harder to find.

The Vaults, Leake St, Lambeth, London SE1 7NN until13 October 2019. Times: Tue – Sat 8pm; Thu & Sat 3.30pm; Sun 6pm. Admission: £15 – £40. 

https://www.thevaults.london/Shida

Photos: Helen Maybanks