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The Girl I Left Behind Me

By Jessica Walker and Neil Bartlett

Opera North

The Lowry, 24 June 2012

In this show Jessica Walker performed various songs, taken mainly from the realms of music hall and vaudeville.  All were originally sung by women impersonating men.

When singing, Walker took on the character of each song’s protagonist, whether it was Burlington Bertie, down-at-heel but intent on keeping up appearances; or the young toff out on a night on the town, ‘Following in Father’s Footsteps’; or an old man recounting the tale of his lost love.  What incredible songs they were, they really held up well, and what dazzling performances!

As for the narrative that linked these songs together (a story of repressed and persecuted sexuality) it was contrived and less than convincing.  There was a definite air of preaching to the converted.  Yes, some of these women were no doubt gay and identified with men.  Yet for others dressing up as a man was simply an act that worked and a job that paid.  It drew in the crowds.

Be that as it may, Jessica Walker was wonderful, even more extraordinary than the women whom she represented: for she didn’t merely impersonate one man, but several.

Further details regarding The Girl I Left Behind Me can be read here.