In the scorching Manchester heat (not very often we can write that), there’s no better escape than an air-conditioned room listening to some jazz…
As part of Manchester’s Fringe Festival, We Need to Talk is a Mancunian’s story of a breakup told through the beauty of jazz. Blue Balloon Theatre is a female-led, not-for-profit theatre company. Led by actor, singer and poet Rebecca Phythian, alongside actor, singer and the evenings cabaret storyteller Jas Nisic, the company aim to develop and showcase their own, original work.
Jazz is unfortunately heard less and less in this modern time of hip-hop, dance and pop music. First generated in the communities of New Orleans in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Jazz music has shot many stars to fame including Ella Fitzgerald, Eva Cassidy and Etta James, to name just a few.
This cabaret explores a tale of a break-up from Jas’ lens; totally unfiltered, raw and emotional, the audience journeys with her on the rollercoaster ride to rock bottom, and all the way back up to her living her best life. The story is woven together by songs; songs that add to her story telling and allow her to express herself and delve deeper into the emotions she is feeling.
But the tale isn’t the pull for this show – the pull is Nisic’s immense vocal talent. Joined by a single pianist, Dave Cavendish, Jas’s voice is beautiful. She delivers ounces of control as she eases her way through some challenging songs including Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Can’t Help Falling In Love and Ain’t No Sunshine.
Her tone perfectly suits the jazz rhythms as she jumps easily from soft dulcet tones to a powerhouse belt, and she even adds a bit of scatting in for good measure. Like honey, her smooth sound doesn’t need too much vocal gymnastics to sound incredible.
The story is no more extraordinary than a typical breakup which many have suffered in their lifetime. However, there is something rather therapeutic listening to someone else tell their tale, providing moments of recognition for so many others. The story is told with gender neutral pronouns (they/them) in order to not only provide mystery to the story’s heartbreaker, but to make a much more important point, “Is it a man? is it a woman? Who cares!”?
The cabaret is split up nicely into three bitesize chunks, divided by three 15-minute intervals and 3 chic costume changes. The production runs at a pleasant 1 hour 45 minutes.
Overall, the cabaret style show is just a lovely night out, filled with Mancunian charm, fantastic singing and an authentic story. Audiences can sit back with a drink, relax and take in the tales of heartbreak and some brilliant musical talents.
We Need To Talk – A Jazz Cabaret is performing for one more night only on 20th July at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation. Tickets can be found here: https://manchester.ssboxoffice.com/events/we-need-to-talk-a-jazz-cabaret/
Reviewer: Alison Baines
Reviewed: 19th July 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★