4-5 December 2014
Reviewed by Hannah Moore
I took my seat not knowing what to expect, I was aware it wasn’t stand-up nor was it going to be the typical ‘one woman’ scripted show. In the foyer merchandise such as; her latest books, posters and programmes were being sold whilst outside the Victorian Christmas markets were contributing to the pre-show excitement.
’30 Million Minutes’ is the amount of time Dawn French has been alive, this set the tone of the show which consisted of memoirs from past events and close family members. As Dawn took to the stage she was accompanied by a rather jazzy walking stick, the cause was due to her uncontrollable bouts of dizziness which threatened her performances. Dawn shrugged off the doctors concerns, using the stick and an old fashioned arm chair to deal with the benign vertigo symptoms.
Dawn invited the audience to review the highlights of her 30 million minutes on earth. Most of her conversation cantered around her close knit family; brother, mother and her beloved father. Dawn was able to relive some fantastic stories about her childhood and the more she indulged the more the audience fell in love with her family. Laugh out loud from the off, the most memorable was when the Queen Mother came for tea and 3 year old Dawn was convinced it was the Queen witch due to her black teeth; terrified, she didn’t make eye contact with her for the entirety of the visit.
I could feel the audience growing with her as she progressed so when on her tenth millionth minute alive her father committed suicide the atmosphere changed and the mood grew sombre. Sombre in the way it was unexpected, her love for her father had transcended into the audience and I was blown away by the visuals and voice overs used to portray the heartache and confusion felt by 19 year old Dawn. Uplifted then by her resilience and forgiveness surrounding his death she went on to focus on her other family members, fag-ash Lil was a personal favourite.
French takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, leaving the performance with a feeling of empowerment and upmost respect. The show left you with a strong message; make the most of your life, cherish your friends and family – forget them whom try to bring you down.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000