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Signs of a Star Shaped Diva review at Theatre Royal Stratford East

A one-woman show about a deaf undertaker who sign-sings – yes that is doing sign language instead of singing – songs by her favourite divas isn’t necessarily a production that’s going to have people flocking to Stratford. Especially when you add encouraged audience participation.

However disabled-led theatre company Graeae’s new play comes surprisingly close to pulling it off – despite a slow second half – providing as many laugh out loud lines as moving moments.

Caroline Parker is Sue Graves by day and Tammy Frascati (“a favourite singer and a favourite drink”) by night – not that she’ll tell her new boyfriend about her alter ego. Sue signs often mesmerising and sometimes hilarious versions of songs by greats including Ella Fitzgerald, Dusty Springfield, Kirsty McColl, Celine Dion and Gloria Gaynor to recount her romance and her rise to fame.

Britain’s favourite funeral song, My Heart Will Go On, and Gaynor’s I Will Survive become comedy pieces (“Actually Gloria, I didn’t find that very helpful”). Amy Winehouse’s Love is a Losing Game saves the second act from being entirely superfluous. And a play that originally seemed to have a pretty niche audience just about justifies the journey to E15.

Production Information

Theatre Royal Stratford East, January 27-February 6, then touring until May 22

Nona Shepphard
Jenny Sealey, Nona Shepphard
Theatre Royal Stratford East, Graeae Theatre Company
Caroline Parker
Running time
2hrs 20mins

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