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Big Voice

15 May


It’s a good sign when all a performer has to do is stand on stage to elicit a hearty laugh from her audience. And although it seemed that much of Shortis and Simpson’s fan club were sharing the auditorium with me, their laughter, tears and raucous applause were well-deserved.

Moya presents an autobiography, in a form I have never experienced before. She shares, mostly through music, and in a broad range of styles, I might add, her life. And as patchy as the story may be, it is told with a unique combination of elegance, wit, and pathos that warmly engages its audience.
Her description of her Surrey grandmother, whose accent made her sound as though she were singing whenever she spoke, was endearing, and I could not help but swell with anger as she related the story of how her year 2 teacher berated her for singing a harmony before the class had been taught it. Her journey back to a love of singing, and her rediscovery of it here in what was described to her as an ‘uncultured’ Australia, is the main theme of this show.
Moya says in the program:

“Whenever people hear that I started singing at age thirty-five, there is always the same astonishment. What I find astonishing is how many people have been stopped from doing something that I truly believe is a natural expression of creativity. It’s mostly a family member or a teacher that has intervened at a critical stage, made a judgement on a voice, and effectively silenced the flow, often for ever.”

While the style of the piece is clearly that of a baby boomer, Moya’s story resonates with a generosity and simplicity that is often lacking in theatre. It even appealed to a relatively cynical Gen-Xer like myself.
 

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