Lotte’s Gift ****

Lotte’s Gift is a musical and dramatic love letter to a much loved grandmother.  Using projected photos and stories, musician Karin Schaupp manages to paint a convincing portrait of the woman who shaped her life.

As with many testimonials, the family drama is rather hit-and-miss.  Schaupp’s talents are easily far more musical than acting, and it does show.  She is competent in playing her grandmother, but it isn’t a great performance.  However, there is such obvious affection in it that all of the shortcomings are easily glossed over.

And David Williamson’s script is rather pedestrian.  It may have been composed in a way to appear natural and as a springboard for the musical interludes, but watching an hour-long conversation between a grandmother and granddaughter played by one actress isn’t the most riveting form of dramatic writing.

What is phenomenal, however, is Schaupp’s guitar playing.  Each dramatic moment is punctuated by a guitar solo, which always manages to add poignancy and depth to the events that are being discussed.  It is hard not to feel something for the characters and the events that are being told, but the music is so moving and excellently performed that it manages to take these moments and make them transcend an average family discovery saga one would expect to see on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’.

In the end, Lotte’s Gift contains an average performance of an average play but has an exquisite and at times awe-inspiring musical performance.  As interesting as some of the stories are, the most superior moments are all musical.  It is a shame that there isn’t less talk and more playing, but the playing that is there is so brilliantly executed that any lover of music should check it out.

Playing at the Assembly Rooms from 12.15-13.20 until August 31.

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