Despite the eclectic range of entertainment available at the Vaults it’s been a pleasant surprise to have discovered Tori Scott. What, who is Tori? What kind of show is this, comedy, play, or a musical? Scott instantly reassures any distrust with her alluring presence while she glides smoothly through this 70-minute performance, supported by a three piece band. Jamie Wilkins on bass, drums played by Lisa Martin and Adam Wachter on the keyboard.
Written by Tori Scott and Adam Hetrick, the show begins with Scott introducing herself as an Arlington-born New Yorker, and it resonates with its London audience by comically revealing her misinterpretation behind a homeless man’s stare. Patronising, yes; yet Scott turns this around by connecting with those for who this show has been specifically created.
Hetrick and Scott fixate humour around gay culture, including opening the play by disclosing Wachter’s sexual preference. Scott’s knowledge of gay terminology is impressive and continuously throughout the production, the writing asserts her position as a straight woman within the gay community. It’s all fun in the moment, yet similar to Sex and the City, in some instances, gay men are reduced to certain stereotypes and this is where Thirsty disappoints.
Scott possesses stage presence so using specific jokes to resonate in 2018 isn’t justifiable. There are many ways to stand in solidarity and although Hetrick and Scott’s collective effort is fun, there are moments which should be left in the past. However, the overall production connects with the audience not through retelling past tales but with Scott’s likability, fictional or not. Her tremendous talent and strong wit is, ultimately, this show.
The anecdotes of New York make me realise how similar London has become to it. As an amalgamation of two cities, the effect of the political climate is terrifying. The team use this connection with its dismay towards the current presidency, and the anti-Trump theme runs throughout, mixing it with British politics. If Twinks for Theresa do exist, then it alludes to further similarity between the nations. The subtle humour behind these moments are supported by Scott’s powerful voice, each cover accentuates the melodrama squeezed in between verses. The assertions nonetheless come without substance; it reflects the dismay of the country without insight into current American reality.
The reality of Texan Scott, however, is exposed through the mention of her heterosexual parents and their four children; Scott’s attention seeking guides her thirst elsewhere and, without giving too much detail away, at a local theatre she discovers the glam existence of everything theatrical, pushing her into the limelight. As each memory is retold, Scott sings from a range of eclectic pop songs, Judy Garland, Lady Gaga, and many more.
Grasping the audience’s attention and without much perceived effort many are compelled into vocal participation. Scott’s cover of Wrecking Ball transforms Miley Cyrus’ tune into an exciting piece; she deserves praise above her competition. Whether it’s the bottle of vodka kissing her, or the reality of questioning how she ended up in a police station, this audience relates.
Scott injects passion into the larger than anticipated covers, but it’s the moments in between, in which she gets through the mundanity of life through sheer enjoyment, that connects with the city person audience. Having escaped, the little pleasures drive this character to lead by example and display the modern independent woman. Scott is not apologising, she has forged her career, and achieves admiration for her characterisation which is not easily achieved. It’s impossible to decipher the true person behind Tori Scott; that information is not for the stage.
Seth Sklar-Heyn’s direction enables Scott to possess the stage and entertain while mastering her audience. It’s powerful throughout and the manner in which Scott moves to each joke, and song, only adds to her charm. The team effort behind this production reveals how Robin Rayner Productions have secured its global success.