Christine Bovill’s return to the Fringe with her homage to Edith Piaf could not have found a better home than the Famous Spiegeltent. Not just the mirrors and wooden booths, but the very air seems redolent of the cafes and clubs of Paris in the years of Piaf’s prime.
Bovill bears little physical resemblance to the fragile figure of the Little Sparrow, and her Glaswegian speech is far removed from Piaf’s, but the most important aspect, her ability to reproduce the classic songs that brought fame to her muse, makes her as fine an interpreter of this music as any I’ve heard.
Accompanied by her usual musical partner Michael Roulston on piano, and that fine Scottish accordion player John Somerville, she takes us through the life and career of one of the greatest music icons of all time with skill and an obvious passion for her subject.
She tells us she had no interest in learning French at school, until she heard Piaf, an experience that turned her life around to the extent that she pursued a career as a French teacher herself. Fortune has equipped her with a voice that does justice to the greatest hits from Piaf’s canon, from “L’accordioniste” through “La Vie en Rose” and “I Wish You Love” – a song Bovill first heard sung – in English – by Marlene Detreich in London – to “Milord” and, of course, “No Regrets”.
I could not have asked for a finer start to this year’s Fringe.