Review: Be Prepared to be Swept Away When ‘Kissed by Brel’…

We had the privilege of attending ‘Kissed by Brel‘ tonight in the intimate setting of the Jermyn Street Theatre. It was an entertaining evening… more entertaining than one would expect with only two performers on stage.

The set simple yet effective. The floor and back wall painted a shade of gray (the rest of the room black). Two chairs. Tow Glasses. One piano. Crumpled black paper around the perimeter, looking like leaves when the lights dimmed. A hand fan. And, of course, don’t forget the lighting. That’s it… besides Claire Watling using her scarf to change the look of her outfit. Simple, right? Maybe, but definitely all that was needed.

Seventeen songs… seventy-five minutes. It was 75 minutes jam-packed with talent. It was amazing how Claire performed the songs with such passion and emotion… bringing the stories alive through the words of the captivating and talented Jacques Brel. I could picture the carousel, the bull, the dog… (from ‘Carousel’, ‘The Bulls’, and ‘The Girls and the Dogs’). Her actions, movements, facial expressions, her tears… they all provided images for the songs… brought them alive. You could experience the sadness, humor, love, sarcasm. You felt like you were in Amsterdam. You could see the cinema where Madeleine’s love waited for her. You could envision the dog as she kissed it on it’s nose. That’s how real it was made.

And, the musical accompaniment by Godfrey Johnson definitely cannot go unnoticed. His natural ability added intensity to the songs. No compositions sounded alike. He helped tell the stories. And, it’s easy to see that Claire and Godfrey have a close, wonderful bond.

The lighting, as mentioned above, was well done. One wouldn’t think that there would be much work involved but that is before you see that it is more than a talented singer standing on stage singing. Spotlights, colored lights… it all helped enhance the story as she moved around the stage. Kudos to Lighting Operator, Justin Emrys Smith.

There is much talent and experience between Director Geoffrey Hyland, Performer Claire Watling, and Accompanist Godfrey Johnson. South Africa has been blessed with their gifts and now we are being blessed.  All their abilities shine through in this wonderful production of ‘Kissed by Brel’. You’ll want to see it! You’ll want to experience it!

by Ann Kamran (


One thought on “Review: Be Prepared to be Swept Away When ‘Kissed by Brel’…”

  1. Well done guys! One of the best musical reviews of Brel’s music to ever come out of South Africa!!

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