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Cautionary Tales for Daughters
"She allowed all things designer to create and define her.
Heat and Hello made her crave for
Things she couldn't pay for:
Shoes she couldn't stand in and croc skin bags for ten grand." — From Chanel the Designer Label Girl
Cautionary Tales for Daughters
Tanya Holt as Princess Sylvia (Photo: Scott Wishart)
In the intimate space that is the tiny gem of Jermyn Street Theatre we are gathered to hear Tanya Holt's musical words of wisdom for our daughters — the things we wish our mothers could have told us about the world but in the form of satirical songs.

This attempt to put old heads on young shoulders starts with the regrets of a girl now grown up who had tattooed on her body the name of a pop singer now disgraced and imprisoned for serial offences of child sexual molestation. Ooops! Then there is Chanel who is obsessed with designer labels, "who allows all things designer to create and define her".

There is the warning about Annabel Dair, a compulsive sharer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram whose private life and explicit photographs are eventually out there in cyberspace and viewed by the bankers who are now her ex employers. Coming relatively late to motherhood and now the parent of an 11 year old daughter Dotty, Tanya has lucid observations about birth and expectations. Her description of the hospital rooms with a view and a designer birthing pool contrast with those with no view used for forceps deliveries, emergency caesarians and dashed hopes of the perfect birth.

Tanya's vocal range is magnificent and she is accompanied on the piano and in voice with operatic high notes by A Girl Called Fred, otherwise known as Birgitta Kenyon. To the rear of the stage an open book shows video clips, drawings and photographs to illustrate the topic of the song.

Tanya will change part of her costume to convey different characters, cowboy hats and holsters for the girl who identifies with cowboys rather than the squaw role assigned to the girls. So in a Western genre we have a song about gender stereotyping with a very sad and emotional message, our cowgirl giving into the pressure to wear a pink dress until she meets like minded women who allow their cowboy side to come out.

A cabaret song will demonstrate the woes of Cherry the Amazing Yo Yo girl who swings between bouts of starving and over eating, one day she is as "thin as a piece of string and then as large as a block of flats". At the interval the audience members are invited to write their own experiences on a card, some of which Tanya may in future convert into her clever rhymes.

There is of course much to laugh at but many of the lyrics have a sadness making them bittersweet songs of experience as satirical as William Blake. Cautionary Tales for Daughters may sound like a feminist show but its appeal is wider and musically the variety of styles impresses. This is a musical evening which is intellectually pleasing as well as fun.

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Cautionary Tales for Daughters
Writer and Performer: Tanya Holt
Pianist and performer: Birgitta Kenyon
Directed by Robin Kingsland who is also a contributing writer
Starring: Tanya Holt
Videography and Screen Design: Vesna Krebs
Contributing Composer: Daniel Dibdin
Running time: One Hour 55 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 020 7287 2875
Booking at Jermyn Street to 11th February 2017 and on tour to Cheltenham, Hemel Hempstead, Lancashire, Sudbury, Guildford Shropshire and Norfolk to 24th July 2017
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 31st January 2016 performance at Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST
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