Harriet Braine: Les Admirables
- Suzanne Black
- 14 August 2019
This article is from 2019
A varied selection of tunes about some impressive women from history
Harriet Braine's shtick is musical comedy. Previously combining stories about famous artists with unexpected popular songs, for this year's show she turns her attention to science, specifically some of the unsung (ha!) female inventors and practitioners from history. Mixing scientists with well-known tunes and, for some reason, the least appropriate accents, Braine offers to redress the dearth of attention that has been paid to female scientists.
She covers familiar names, like Ada Lovelace who was instrumental to computer programming, Hedy Lamarr who invented the frequency-hopping technology that enables us to now bask in wall-to-wall Wi-Fi, and Grace Hopper, an innovator of computer programming in the United States Navy. Interspersed with the musical lessons is the history of Braine's involvement in musical theatre, allowing her to parallel her own experiences with a wider history of women.
Braine's voice is quite stunning and her songwriting skills are very impressive, with this hour both nicely constructed and easy on the ear. No one number begs to be remembered after the show has ended but, crucially, there is plenty variety and change of pace. This means that she avoids one cardinal sin of musical comedy, and keeps it all sounding fresh.
Gilded Balloon at Old Tolbooth Market, until 25 Aug, 6pm, £6 in advance or donations at the venue.