French songstress takes you to Paris
Georgia Darcy has made it her 'songline' to bring through the light and sounds of Paris. This show is not merely a rendition and re-interpretation of great French love songs but rather, is a bold, exploration of love itself, and how love may change over time but is forever woven into the memory lanes of Parisian cobblestone streets and quarters. Georgia pays homage and respect to Édith Piaf and French stand-alone classics, but through paradox and play moves the cabaret into the 2020s with the upbeat, modern works of Zaz. A French language cabaret punctuated with English subtitles, explanatory notes and poetic translation, 'Under the Paris Sky' also pulls in stylistic nuances of European cabaret burlesque with comedic interludes from French maid, Louise.
Music, Rhythm and Tone
As is embedded in the French language itself, 'Under the Paris Sky' opens with poetic stanza. This scene setter paints a picture of Paris as it is seen with French eyes and filtered through a romantic Latin lens. Georgia shines in her glittering evening dress of cobalt-blue, awakening us to the City of Lights. A city confident in both its romance and torment, of love and tragedy, Paris becomes the backdrop of great cabaret music. The Piaf classics of 'La vie en rose' and 'Non, je ne regrette 'rien' will always draw a tear but as Georgia respectfully enters Piaf's iconic theatre of sadness, she makes these songs her own. As Georgia follows stories of love through the streets of Paris- we go with her.
It is interesting to note the tonal changes within this one-woman bilingual cabaret.
The almost 'back-street style' of Piaf which is as unmistakable as it is 'undefinable', is juxtaposed against the contemporary work of Zaz, which has clear links to European jazz. What is remarkable about Georgia's song selection in 'Under the Paris Sky', is that through 'contrast', the show exhibits a timeline of French-language cabaret by actually avoiding strict documentary style. Georgia creates musical fluidity and connection through her natural feel for the rhythm of the French language itself. Georgia embodies the heart of French-language rhythm and is even able to back-loop her own passion for the French language, into the rhythm. This creates new tones and tonal complexity. Most notably, Georgia has mastered breadth within her nasal tones and has found unique timbres at the back of her throat which together create the harmonic tapestry needed to truly evoke the emotional breadth that is pivotal to French-language song and music. Georgia's sensitive rhythmic and tonal mastery positions her at the apex of French-language cabaret in Australia.
A Bilingual Cabaret Framework
Contrast Georgia's French-language tonal tapestry to her English-language song selections. The latter almost had a 'Berlin marching rhythm', a forceful rhythmic simplicity inherent in Germanic-language rhyme-rhythm composition. While the intention behind the comparative musical styles may have been to create an audience-inclusive cabaret structure, musically, the style juxtaposition provided yet another level of intrigue.
The bilingual nature of 'Under the Paris Sky' was an impressive technical and cabaret-form achievement. The English narrative and interludes gave musical context to those who were not French-fluent, and those who were, remarked on Georgia's 'perfect French accent, intonation and speed-fluency'. The comedic interlude of the French maid and her 'vaudeville-banters' with extraordinary pianist Simon, provided timely 'light and shade' and worked to only highlight Georgia's own onstage craft. On the night that I attended, although audience numbers were down, Georgia's audience connection did not diminish. Her energy is warm, interactive and inviting.
'Under the Paris Sky' breaks down language barriers through Georgia's masterful detailed attention to French-language music and her confident celebration of its differences and nuances. This show exposes 'the poetry of music' and inspires audiences to open hearts to 'songlines' that are emotionally bold and edgy.
Donna Sue Robson
Weekend Notes, Aug 2022