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Thursday 19 June 2014

HAYES THEATRE'S 'O.C.DIVA' dissected by Rhiona

Obsessive and slightly neurotic, Hilary Cole plays upon her quirks and idiosyncrasies in this lighthearted one woman show about trying to make it in the musical theatre world. Cole reflects on both societal obsessions such as technology and her own addictions, featuring Rubik’s cubes and counting in multiples of five. Throughout the one-hour show, she dazzles the audience with old school cabaret charm interjected with moments of pure comedy gold.

Cole uses the familiar constructs of cabaret to present an interesting and innovative show.  She is self-deprecating and self-aware, but one only wishes she would’ve pushed these aspects of the performance to their extreme. But Cole, undoubtedly, has a strong voice, well suited to musical theatre and cabaret, and her impersonation of Bernadette Peters was right on point. 

Her satirical approach to the industry is refreshing, as is her ability to put playful spins on well-known songs. The show’s repertoire is diverse and well suited to Cole’s musical style – furthermore, they are always a relevant keystone for each new scene, each new step of her journey.

The show does peter out a little toward the end when Cole takes a turn for the deeply personal, speaking about her current relationship. It is a wonderful insight and a necessary sidestep, but I was left wanting her to conclude with a little more sass. Although an interesting feature, the romance and the sentimentality can seem too saccharine at times. The balance is lost and you can only hope the strength she opens with will resurface.

Still, Cole’s performance exposes a vulnerability as she opens up to the audience about her flaws, which she is able to forget through her music. Although still very young, Cole captivated the audience with her confidence and conviction, but perhaps a total fearlessness will develop with time. It is early days for the young performer but there is no doubt that she will go on to do great things.

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