Review: Simply Barbra

With each step down the winding stairs of Brasserie Zedel you are transported back in time to an opulent art deco era. Seated in the cabaret club, little round tables covered in black table cloths, each with its own red lamp; the ambiance is intimate, the atmosphere is expectant and then in the glow of a small spot, Barbra Streisand appears, walking backwards on to the stage she sings, “I don’t know why I’m frightened,” the opening lines of ‘As if we never said goodbye’. As she turns around graceful and demure, the audience breaks into rapturous applause.  Of course, it’s not really Streisand, it’s the astounding and alluring Steven Brinberg and after a beat he interrupts the opening bars with a very witty one liner setting the tone for the evening.

Brinberg, who has been impersonating Streisand all over the world, comes to London to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Funny Girl and he has certainly mastered her funny nuances, from her fluid hand gestures to the detail in the way she brushes her fringe out of her eyes, he absolutely lives and breathes his subject. At times through the cabaret haze, one could be fooled in to believing it really is the great Streisand.

Brinberg’s clever awareness of the charade and how to play to the crowd, makes for a very fun, laugh out loud evening. He excelled during a duet with his guest star, Peter Caulfield (One man, Two Guvnors), the repartee allowed Brinberg to showcase the Streisand persona with rip roaring comical ad libs.

Highlights were found in the faultless My Man and Evergreen, and the unexpected hilarity and abundance of talent shown in I’m Still Here and People. It’s a shame Brinberg didn’t use a bigger song to close the show, but this did not deter the audience from awarding him with a big standing ovation. Simply Barbra, is quite simply worth seeing.

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