Coming to London after an international tour, Sarah Tullamore’s London-Paris-Roam! returns to its roots as the chanteuse performs her one-woman musical about a “woman of a certain age” clearing away the clutter and working out what’s next.
Sarah says: “London-Paris-Roam! is a combination of stand-up comedy, soul-searching monologue, hearts-to-hearts with the audience, theatrical story-telling, all blended together with original music (blues, torch and fun musical theatre songs) to create a unique one-woman musical. I call it a one-woman musical because I think it goes slightly further than traditional cabaret. Yes, there is the cabaret directness of speaking to the audience directly, breaking the fourth wall, but I like to think at the same time that I am creating an original story and the audience can go on a journey with me.”
London-Paris-Roam! has certainly travelled, much like it’s lead: it has toured South Africa (Cape Town; Paarl; Heidelburg) and now England (Bath, Birmingham, Manchester, Guildford, London and Brighton). It was also programmed in 2016’s Paris Fringe (the first ever show performed at the first ever Paris Fringe!) and the Edinburgh Fringe, and before that there were various one-off performances in Paris and London.
Titled as it is and with such a widespread touring schedule, one could think of the show as multicultural – but Sarah responds: “It’s funny, I wouldn’t have used that word necessarily to describe my show – for some reason I feel that ‘multicultural’ often seems to be used when specifically talking about certain countries or ethnic groups – but yes, given that the show talks about my travels to different countries, particularly France, Italy and Japan and refers to the language, food and drink in these places, I suppose from that respect it is multicultural.
“There were times when I wondered if, away from London, the show would be well received or not, especially as one national listings site previewing my show referred to me as a ‘Europhile chanteuse takes her hit Edinburgh show on tour’. I never would have thought about it before, but the current political climate did make me slightly worry about that turn of phrase. However, I am happy to report that the show has been well received wherever it has gone. Even though I’m English, the show was conceived in France, written in English, talks about many different cultures and languages – and I would like to think that all of that still interests a lot of people in this post-Brexit world in which we live!”
A lot resting on the shoulders of a sweet little show about a “woman of a certain age”, as Sarah describes herself: “I think it probably means different things to different people. To me it means that ‘in-between time’ when you’re no longer completely young, but you’re not old either. I feel that 45-60 is a very grey area in a women’s life, where people and society at large are just not too sure “where to put you”. Especially if you haven’t had children like me. What are you? Eccentric, funky, wacky, glamorous, she-hasn’t-had-kids-slightly older aunt? Or a divorcee? Or a Mother with older children now wondering what to do? Do we pity her? Or admire her? Who knows…but I decided to try and give these woman a voice.
“There have been times when I’ve wondered if I’m ‘legitimate’ talking about being a ‘woman of a certain age” when there are, at times, women older than me in the audience, however that’s just it: this age is such a grey area; no one really knows where it begins or ends. However, after the show, women of all ages have come to see me to say they feel concerned and that reassures me. One 29 year-old girl after a performance in Cape Town hit the nail on the head I think by saying that every decade in life has its “certain age”. She was 20 years younger than me, but felt totally concerned by what I was relating in the show.”
She continues: “I think there are more “women of a certain age” in stage performances than before (The Girls is a good example), but I think it’s still something that we have to fight very much for, as there is a danger that women over 50 can get pushed to the wayside as opposed to men of the same age. Where I do think that suddenly being a ‘woman of a certain age’ is a problem is in TV and film. Unless you’re already an established name the opportunities really start to dwindle or become caricatures, regardless of the country you’re in. There is a very interesting initiative in France at the moment by the AAFA called ‘Le Tunnel de la Comédienne de 50 ans’ which is all about raising awareness of the wilderness that TV and film actresses start to face once they hit 50.”
However, this isn’t a heavy night at the theatre! As Sarah says: “Above all, the show is a lot of fun! All of the issues described are presented in a fun, light-hearted, warm way with lots of Parisian fun thrown in too. James Burn’s brilliant original melodies are strong and well-written, the lyrics are witty, and the audience goes on an entertaining journey from start to finish that, very often, they did not expect at all.”
London-Paris-Roam! played at the Tristan Bates Theatre on Wednesday April 19th.