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Clare McCaldin “captivating” – “performed fantastically” – reviews for Vivienne

Clare McCaldin‘s performance as Vivienne – TS Eliot’s estranged wife – at Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival has received critical acclaim:

Three new pieces of work for solo female performers graced Riverside’s Tête à Tête Festival last night. All were interesting. One was very good indeed — Stephen McNeff’s Vivienne, a 40-minute piece which gives yet more limelight to TS Eliot’s ill-fated first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood. Alone in her asylum cell, Viv, played by Clare McCaldin, remembers her marriage and all that has brought her there…All is delivered by catty, horny McCaldin, all with a sheen of barmy. It’s a far better performance than we’re entitled to from someone who can also sing.
London Evening Standard

Clare McCaldin performed fantastically, perfectly channeling Vivienne’s fragile mental state. She conveys the desperation of a woman who was once seductive, charming and intelligent, but whose powers now fail her. Her voice was continually well-matched to the fickle moods of an insane woman, from melancholy moaning to belting out rude sailor songs.

It’s rare that a one-woman show can be so clever and funny without dragging towards the end – but Vivienne kept up its pace, and was a fitting elegy to the woman behind much of T.S. Eliot’s poetry.
One Stop Arts

The story of Vivienne, the final of the three sets I saw, was a retelling of the life of Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot by Stephen McNeff (1951 -) and Andy Rashleigh. Accompanied only by the piano (played by Libby Burgess) this performance by Clare McCaldin was captivating. Vivienne’s meeting and seduction of TS Eliot, the sexually unfulfilling marriage and subsequent affair with ‘Bernie’ Russell, followed by increasing mental instability, are shown in detail as she compares her life to that of Virginia Wolfe and Daisy Miller. Again perfectly timed moments of humour lift the loneliness and despair.
Planet Hugill

Posted on August 13th 2013

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