Theatre review: One For My Baby
Theatre review: One For My Baby

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: One For My Baby, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Paul Whitelaw. ★★★ In 1953, Frank Sinatra was back on top after a post-war career slump. But his private life was in disarray. Ava Gardner had left him following two stormy years of marriage. A star in her own right, she’d nursed …

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Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: One For My Baby, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Paul Whitelaw.

★★★

In 1953, Frank Sinatra was back on top after a post-war career slump. But his private life was in disarray. Ava Gardner had left him following two stormy years of marriage.

A star in her own right, she’d nursed him through his fallow period. But after years of extramarital affairs – on both sides – she was tired of the fights and his overbearing affections. Sinatra worshipped her. He fell apart.

This modest – and waywardly accented – production finds Sinatra at the bottom of a glass in a desolate late-night bar; the blue milieu of the closing time classic that gives the show its name, and an essential component of the Sinatra myth. But here it’s revealed as painfully real.

Bending the ear of a sympathetic bartender, Sinatra tries to make sense of his relationship with Gardner. The result is a sensitive meditation on the suffering that, regardless of fame, wealth or lack thereof, unites us all.

Accompanied by a mournful jukebox chorus – in reality two actor/vocalists plus live saxophone and piano – the actor playing Sinatra never sings. This isn’t a celebration of his music, it’s a minor key study of flawed human beings stripped of celebrity armour. Hardly profound, but thoughtful nonetheless.

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39) until 29 August / listings

Published in The Scotsman on 19 August 2015

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