Blow The Wind Southerly

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich


> Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Kathleen Ferier created a chapter in English musical history.

Her life is almost a rags to riches story, starting slowly in the north of England and suddenly flowering into international success.

After an interrupted education and a first husband who cut a sorry figure, she found her voice and her feet in the post-war years, moving on from the tradition of oratorios to bring something distinctive to opera, and to become a major interpreter of Gustav Mahler.

Then cancer scythed her down.

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This is the career that Judi Daykin presents in her neatly composed one-woman show.

She brings out both the events of the singer's remarkable life and also a lot of her character. Northern grit is there by the bucketful.

Kathleen Ferier certainly had gifts, but she developed them with a determination that is more commonly encountered in a rugger scrum or in a boxing ring.

Generous in her gratitude to those who helped her, she retained steadfast self-belief and a well-founded sense of her own worth.

There was humour, too, and the no-nonsense awareness of the world as it really is that you often find in lasses from Yorkshire.

All that is brought out by Judi Daykin who knows better than to overstate her case.

As if mastering all those words for a two-act show were not enough, she also sings, with Roger Bowen as her accompanist. No fewer than 10 songs record the legendary singer's wide repertory with more immediacy than would have been possible with recordings.

Perhaps predictably, the tuneful Northumbrian folk songs make the most impact.

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