Firstly, a disclaimer: I love Elvis Costello. How about you? Because, if you do too, then this is the show for you.
If you’re not a fan, then avoid They Call Her Natasha like you would the spit from a Costello-sung vowel.
Sure, the plot has a narrative, but it’s paper thin and goes nowhere fast: a tale of obsession and a descent into madness.
So far, so intriguing. But that’s where this apparently post-modern story ends.
Singing Costello fan Elsie and her guitarist boyfriend Napoleon Dynamite split up over the former’s fascination with Attractions-era Elvis and we follow them both to a reunion of sorts. That’s it. No twists, turns or tension. Just tunes.
What tunes they are though: 18 Costello-penned classics in total and all sung superbly by Lou Dalgleish (Elsie) or Michael Weston King (Napoleon).
Dalgleish and Weston King are not only lifelong Costello fans, they’re also professional musicians who have been around the game for a while. You can tell.
This is a show for the musical trainspotter: the set, with its vinyl sleeves and promotional posters, is an obsessive’s dream. The playing and singing is fantastic too.
Gladstone Wilson accompanies both our heroes on piano and is flawless, as he pushes and prods the songs to suit the tale being told.
Dalgleish, looking like a cross between Patti Smith and Eddi Reader, gives a pure performance and very nearly makes the tunes her own – with a showstopping take on on the brooding I Want You the highlight of the night.
Weston King, who also narrates the show, proves no slouch either and delivers a gorgeous version of the lesser-known All Grown Up in the second half. It’s worth the wait.
As is the penultimate song, which sees a vigorous attack on Pump It Up segue into the evening’s finale, It’s Time, with its questioning lyric:
“Did you get what you wanted? Well I suppose that depends…”
It’s a fitting finish. If you arrive at the Everyman hoping to go diving for a pearl of a theatre piece, you’ll leave disappointed.
But, for fans of great songs and singing up close and personal, They Call Her Natasha dives for dear life.
They Call Her Natasha, until Feb 26
Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
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