Cautionary Tales For Daughters – Jermyn Street Theatre and Touring

Cautionary Tales 2-4, photo Scott Wishart actor Tanya Holt[1][14]

Tanya Holt in Cautionary Tales For Daughters at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London. Picture: Scott Wishart

Cautionary Tales For Daughters continues at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London until 11 February and tours until 24 July.

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Tanya Holt has a delightful way of packing emotion and accents into song and her voice is like rich cream complete with fresh, sweet strawberries. She resonates in the lower registers and hits higher notes with (apparently) effortless precision. She also has a smile which lights up the room.

Cautionary Tales For Daughters – not quite a revue and not quite a concert – presents a series of songs about life in an admirable range of styles.

The premise is that all the songs contain advice which Holt wants to share with her (real) 11-year-old daughter, Lottie. Actually, it isn’t an aggressive in-your-face feminist show.

Rather these songs poke gentle fun at life, are acutely observed and often very poignant – the tale of Sylvia and her eating disorders, for example. amuses but is also both serious and tragic. So is the account of Arabella and her compulsive sharing.

The folk song which Holt accompanies on a zither is fun, I enjoyed the sight and sound of her playing (with a cello bow) a saw and the blues number ‘Oh little grey hair’ is quite a showstopper. One of the funniest songs gives us Holt putting on a cap and pretending to be a protective dad. She acts as well as she sings.

It’s a two hander show with Birgitta Kenyon and Jenny Gould as pianist/performer at different performances. On press night at Jermyn Street it was Kenyon. She joins in many songs, leads choruses, sings parts of her own, jokes with the audience and looks terrific with her blonde hair and statement (1950s?) red dress with the sticking out skirt. Holt and Kenyon are an adept, well-attuned double act.

Susan Elkin


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