Produced by Becca Rowson, written by playwright Ewen Moore and directed by Elizabeth Huskisson, Battersea Bardot tells the story of a British movie star. This show is a one-woman musical starring Anne Rabbitt as Carol White, a forgotten movie star from London, telling the movie star’s story in the 60s entertainment industry. The movie star had glam and happiness with her dreams being explored to the fullest. However, behind this mask of fortune, lay a troubled life for the movie star who saw her dreams break before her eyes.
This two-hour musical was a ride. From being excited during an American press conference to anger at losing her dreams, the actress sold her performance between quick switches of emotions as the character runs between memories quickly. The lights and sounds helped bring scenes to life from being on the streets to a mansion that the character feels is haunted.
On a simple set with a chair and a desk which on top has a lamp, a phone and a glass, it really brings out how alone the character is. She's the one telling her story alone on a stage that’s half empty. The lights aid in the storytelling used to bring out the character’s desperation or to romanticise the lonely set. It pushes the story forward and helps with building the haunted feeling that the character mentions several times.
With life falling apart, the character still sings. The musical element of this story adds to the old movie star drowning at the loss of dreams or drowning in them happily. She has moments in the show when she physically tells the musicians to stop playing when things get too much. The facade starts to break slowly and the character is no longer able to deny the reality she is living in.
The downward spiral as the character realised everything and was able to trace back when things started to go wrong or when some of her personality traits were born is interesting. Some information being told in the middle with others right before the show ends puts into perspective the hours seen by the character. And makes it all the more tragic when that context is provided. The script allowed time for this story to grow from making the audience watch the movie star from being an adult to ending with a scene with her childhood self.
The musical is premiering at the New Wimbledon Theatre Studio from 14-28 September 2023.