Resurrecting a remarkable artist

By Jessica Cornish

So I never had the chance to see the real Amy Winehouse perform in a world away from television or youtube, but Ashleigh Kreveld certainly gave it a great crack in recreating the experience for me. Fitted out with a cheeky British accent, gold hoops, painted eyeliner and of course the signature beehive and red lips, she lived delightfully up to the illusion of an intimate encounter with Ms. Winehouse.

Frankly Winehouse

Ashleigh’s portrayals of her iconic songs were distinctly impressive: she gave a solid performance throughout, and particularly shone vocally in the higher to mid-range numbers, such as the tricky variations on the jazz standard “Round Midnight”. With such competent vocal skill, I would have even been happy to see more numbers added to the mix. Moreover, Ashleigh’s acting and conviction particularly shone during her songs. The standout for the evening was her powerful rendition of “I Heard Love is Blind”, recounting a one nightstand Winehouse had whilst her troubled husband was in jail.

Ashleigh likewise captured the audience retelling tales of her character’s volatile and destructive relationship with hubby Blake, and how he introduced her to the world of A class drugs after their marriage. I think my favourite moments were when these real-life stories played out in the cabaret: when hearing these bits and pieces of her life, you can’t help but want save this girl from darker times to come…

That said, the dialogue became a little bit uncomfortable and didn’t always make clear sense at times: lines such as “(I dressed) more like a black Jewish man” may even have been authentic quotes, but were lost without context upon me and my friend. No doubt it comes with being an adoring over-protective fan of hers, however I couldn’t help feeling that overall the late Amy’s character was being slightly cheated. No-one could deny that she suffered from a myriad of disorders and issues, but of course there was more to this woman and performer than just addiction after addiction. It would have been nice to see more of her character development and history explored, and more light and shade found in the complexity of the famous Winehouse persona, rather than just focusing on her constant vices and woes.

However for me, this is one of the best Fringe shows currently going around: Frankly Winehouse was an entertaining hour well spent, and reminded me poignantly of how amazing Amy Winehouse was . Along with the impressive title performer, the space was used intelligently, the blocking was really effective, and the lighting design worked admirably for the intimate cabaret setting. And of course, it couldn’t have been an Amy Winehouse tribute night without those solid renditions of her more commercial hits such as “Rehab”, her well-known Zutton’s cover of “Valerie”, and the infamous “Fuck Me Pumps”. If you’re also an Amy fan, there’s still a couple nights to catch Frankly Winehouse in action at The Butterfly Club for the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Dates: Until Sun 27 Sept, 10pm

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, off Little Collins St (between Swanston & Elizabeth) in the Melbourne CBD.

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe