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Paris '90 (1953)


Artist: Cornelia Otis Skinner
Masterworks Broadway
RRP: £9.99
8 864431 25704
Available 20 September 2011

Cornelia Otis Skinner (1899-1979) was an American author, actress and wit, if you have never heard of her, the nearest British equivalent would be Joyce Grenfell. This is a recording of her one woman show, Paris '90 (1953), with music and lyrics by Kay Swift which at times is amusing, at other strangely disturbing, especially ‘A Boston School Teacher’ which seems to depict a destroyed and distraught woman begging her female partner to stay.

As an album, with no points of reference, most of the tracks sound like the product of a slightly deranged and rambling mind. I’m pretty sure that when the show was originally put on, that the whole thing sounded less disturbed than it does here, context is ultimately important.

The show consists of both songs and spoken passages and the track listing is:

'Overture', 'A Lady of Fashion', 'An Angel', 'A Laundress', 'Tourne Mon Moulin', 'A Boston School Teacher', 'A Woman of Virtue', 'Lend me a Bob', 'Introduction', 'La Goulue', 'Calliope', 'Deaf Bertha' and 'Yvette Guilbert songs'.

It may be that the tracks are taken out of context of the show, but with nothing to connect the tracks and no explanation regarding their contents, they do rather sound like the ravings of a mad woman. That said, I’m neither a fan, nor an expert on Cornelia Otis Skinner, I would imagine that anyone who enjoyed her work would enjoy this album.


Charles Packer

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