Friday, 9 November 2012

Kate Dimbleby sings Dory Previn

Kate Dimbleby and Naadia Sheriff at Rosehill Theatre. Review by Alan Cleaver

Dory Previn
I’D not heard of Dory Previn before - and suspect most of the near-capacity audience at Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven hadn’t heard of her either. But I’m very glad that singer Kate Dimbleby and accompaniest Naadia Sheriff brought her to my attention.
Sadly Dory - first wife of Andre Previn - died on Valentine’s Day this year but her music will undoubtedly live on. She did sing herself but it’s the astonishing lyrics and haunting melodies of her songs for which she will be remembered.
She was schizophrenic, suffered heartache (Andre ran off with Mia Farrow) and led the sort of angst-ridden life only heroines in musicals normally get to live.
She used her experience with schizophrenia and the pain of her emotional life as raw material for her songs - and did so with the brightness and contrast buttons full on. These are songs from the extremes of life and left the audience visibly shell-shocked – or laughing out loud.
Here are some of the titles of her songs to give you a flavour: The New Enzyme Detergent Demis of Ali Macgraw; The Final Flight of the Hindenburg, Aftershock, Scared To Be Alone, Did Jesus Have A Sister and The Midget’s Lament.
Kate and Naadia complemented the songs with biographical information on Dory (real name Dorothy) which only added to the full-on, smack-in-the-face, technicolor astonishment of it all.
Kate, for instance, sang a song called Mary C Brown and the Hollywood Sign, explaining it was based on the true story of a young English actress who failed to become a star and committed suicide by throwing herself off the famous Hollywood sign. It’s not the sort of material Barry Manilow is likely to use for his music any time soon.
And there was I Ain’t His Child in which Dory relived the terrible childhood memory of being told by her father that he didn’t think he was her father (he was).
But it would be wrong to give the impression this was all death and horror. Twenty-Mile Zone told of her delight at screaming her head off while driving at night – and then being stopped by the police for doing so! After the constant pap from the inane X Factor drivel of today it was a wonderful breath of fresh air to hear lyrics like 

Sometimes I have this dream
When the time comes for me to go
I will hang myself from the Hollywood sign
From the second or third letter 'O'

Dory had obviously led a troubled life but she died happy and at peace with her inner demons. She was able to show through her songs the best and the worst of the world around us.