If one wishes to see a raw, human performance exploring a life story, combined with the smoothness and tremendous skill of a classically-trained soprano, then Lauren Lee Innis-Youren‘s Hand Hold My Hummus: The Secret Life of a Stubborn Soprano is right for you. The amount of skill displayed by Innis-Youren was astounding, and the human aspect of her show was truly moving. It was an excellent blend of the sublime with the human, and Hold My Hummus is definitely something to check out.
Straight off the bat, Innis-Youren‘s voice was amazing. Classically trained vocalists really are a breed unto themselves, and Innis-Youren uses the show to really show off. Not only does she cover some of the great (and difficult) arias, but she also explored other performing styles such as musical theatre and even heavy metal made an appearance. For each song, Innis-Youren‘s masterful control of her style and tone really meant that she could carry the song’s full emotional impact to the audience. Plus watching her get some revenge on the woman who thought she would not be able to perform Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” was satisfying, especially considering the song is fiendish to listen to (let alone perform).
Hopefully her adventure into the Melbourne scene has been fruitful for her.
The human aspect of the story was interesting. Although some of the more humorous lines in the early show were a little flat (nerves most likely), they made her seem very human and approachable – not quite the operatic diva one expects from sopranos. This humanity was impactful later however, when the story became darker and intimately personal. It would be hard to reveal to close acquaintances the impact of illness and broken passions, let alone to an audience of (presumably) strangers – especially with the tears that very clearly threatened to fall. But although they were (potentially) not scripted, they added to the humanising element of the show – a nice contrast to the operatic heights which the songs would ascend to.
There were only two areas that could stand to be improved, and both were probably related to opening night jitters. The first was the occasional line that was stumbled over by Innis-Youren, especially early on. She actually stated that she was very nervous, but heroically soldiered on and built up her confidence (in a way that could be argued as a meta performance that reflected the narrative trajectory of her performance). Interestingly, this aspect had the added element of humanising her performance – very beneficial when dealing with a biographical work.
The other issue was the sound and lighting person. There were a few moments when the lighting for the show just did not seem to accurately reflect the nature of the show, including the occasional moment of total darkness in the room whilst the song was still going, which was mildly disconcerting. There were also some issues balancing the sound, which was a shame as sometimes Innis-Youren‘s voice would be swallowed by the soundtrack; alternatively, her voice would be quite overpowering.
These are minor quibbles however, and did not detract from the overall excellence of the show.
Overall, a very moving performance that is a real human story (combined with arias). Innis-Youren manages, despite some technical troubles and jitters, to deliver a phenomenal performance that is worth checking out if you get an opportunity.
Hold My Hummus: The Secret Life of a Soprano is on at 7pm from June 24 – 29 (barring Tuesday 25th) at the Butterfly Club.