A pastiche of voices and genres come together in Dreadful Little Girl to build an intimate reflection on where inspiration is found and what it ultimately delivers. Nothing is too sacred to be converted into something else and this show happily juxtaposes historical witch trials with the cultish b-movies of director Russ Meyer and the more esoteric novels of Virginia Woolf.
Patti Plinko, centre-stage in a gloomy space, adjusts both her physical and vocal performance throughout the set. For one song, inspired by Woolf’s The Waves, she sits wistfully on a stool, conjuring up the ocean-side lyrics with a posture of loneliness. By the end of the set, the stool is unrepentantly pushed aside for the gleeful foot stomping and hand grasping of livelier numbers, Madame Sunshine and The Howling. Props are minimal, a bottle of Martini to accompany one song and a whistle to add atmosphere to another number about the actress Celia Johnson.
Every song comes with baggage, a snippet of story and meaning, though very often the stories and songs seem wonderfully disconnected. Madame Sunshine, which might have been a nod to the ocean, is in fact a growly piece about waking up in a park worse for wear as the first commuters head to work. Similarly, Dreadful Little Girl, which might have been about morning-after remorse, turns out to be a fable referencing shawls, grandmothers, harbours and wolves. The show keeps you guessing and is consistently entertaining. The accompanying musicians, a guitarist and violinist, clearly enjoy performing together and bring plenty of energy.
Patti Plinko has a versatile voice that goes the distance over the artistic range, from gypsy-folk to jazz, while vividly evoking a range of believable characters, ingénue one moment and femme fatale the next. A raw and humorous set that culminates in something bigger than its parts, this is an interesting commentary on artistic evolution and inspiration.