Casual Sax

Casual Sax

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Yes of course I read it wrong: an invitation to Casual Sax. Well you would, wouldn’t you? And I bet you did too.

But no, now playing at Montecasino’s Studio Theatre is Casual Sax. I was almost right, though, because Barbara-Anne Puren’s one woman show is all about sex and only half about the sax, as she sings, chats and plays her way through a musical version of her life story.

What’s delightful about Puren is the way she talks about men and sex in exactly the way that men tend to talk about the females species. Analysing the different types, and unselfconsciously telling us what she’s after, what she’s had, what she’s hoping to get. She’s a hopeless romantic, she declares, then dissects her relationships with wit and candour as she paints a portrait of a so far fairly disastrous love life. And sex life, because, with her behaving like one of the boys, they’re totally separate things.

There’s a lovely scene where she shares her internet dating experiences, describing a wild territory that’s prowled by The Big Five. She slips in several jokes along with the raconteur, including a couple of gags that every woman should remember.

Her saxophone playing is bold and faultless, with big powerful blasts that show how she really did transcend a bad marriage by putting her heart and soul into this escapism hobby.

Her singling is also strong and passionate as she covers sex siren classics like Fever and Big Spender, and the memorable Cry Me A River.

Most of the songs come at us with the same tempo, however, with little variety in the pace or style to vary the mood of the performance.

Puren oozes sex-appeal and sensuality, but it’s all a little too perfectly practiced as she sultrily raises an eyebrow, flashes her eyes, strikes an inviting pose, and vamps it up in a stunning little black dress.

Yet she’s at her best in those moments when she’s being more natural, a real woman, rather than an over-groomed sex kitten.

An evening of Casual Sax has its ups and downs – it’s fun and easy entertainment, but would be even more enjoyable if she toned down the coquettery and varied the musical pace a little.

Casual Sax runs at Montecasino’s Studio Theatre until October 31.

For more of Lesley’s musings follow the links alongside.

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