ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER
TRENT POLY NOTTINGHAM
CLAUDIA SHOULDN’T fear the damned faint praise — she is a fabulous focus for this ACT.
In the highest showbiz tradition folks, she flinched not at the high, aching walls of this ersatz basketball hall, barely insulated by 200 bodies stagefront.
The lighting was over-ambitious, but she chose not to follow the coloured beams to the far door. Instead, she played on stage for more than it was worth, and squeezed the cheers out of everyone. The 15 rows went home beaming.
ACT without Claudia would be nothing, or very little, because while the throbbing electro-baubles of her partner Thomas Leer and their bit-part players occasionally deliver a really flavoursome punch (‘Absolutely Immune’), too often the synthetic swirls and percussion break-outs aspire to mushy anonymity. Suspicions of studio upbringings were fuelled by such sesh-band ploys as the Solo Keyboard (Atmosphere!) Intro, and so forth.
But Leer knows his ace, and there is no doubt that the show is quietly constructed around Claudia, but in a dignified manner. She disappears backstage, obscured by dry ice (or variant thereof) to change costumes. And even the encore is preceded by a dress switch. But the cosmetics don’t mess with her own starpower. She walks miles, bowing and preening, pirouetting towards the sweet boy stage right who knows all the words and flings her limbs in some dance-school way. But all totally unselfconscious, and ACT are the better for it.
The singing is superb, and she even manages to kill off the echo with one hi-watt chorus. ‘Snobbery And Decay’ completes my knowledge of the ACT originals, and I suspect we were whisked through some less endowed material, but the version of ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable, Now’ was wickedly affectionate.
It battled the audience, most of whom looked at the floral Moz-bouquet — waved and thrown in tribute, for Claudia is a big Smiths fan — and thought, ‘shouldn’t these be red roses, or something?’
Some later threw the chysanthemums back to Claudia. She smiled, dazzingly. The band played on, and we were all strung along very nicely.
ZTT has one arrow left.