PERFORMING her debut one-woman tour of Scotland, Leah MacRae occasionally acknowledges Senga, her “Z-list celebrity stalker” in the front row, and this contrived, one-way interaction neatly encapsulates the appeal of the River City and Gary: Tank Commander actor. On one hand, she’s an effortlessly down-to-earth Glaswegian, capably ad-libbing and engaging the audience with her life story. On the other, she’s a desperate and deluded wannabe diva, possessed of more than enough ego to be a stage icon yet denied the big opportunities, invariably due to her size.
Ultimately though, with her vulnerabilities exposed, and her exceptional singing voice unleashed, she reconciles the two aspects to emerge as a bona-fide stage star, with charisma and talent to burn, her future as a variety performer assured.
Leah MacRae – My Big, Fat, Fabulous Diary, Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock ****
The premise of the show is that MacRae has rediscovered a diary she kept in her youth, and will be sharing passages. These prove to be relatable extracts of childish naivety and teenage angst, with MacRae in the present marvelling at her precocity, self-belief and stupidity, especially in the realms of love and professional ambitions.
The script doesn’t always sparkle – she’s no Sue Townsend. Still, it’s authentic, and there’s some very funny observational humour (particularly about the film Ghost). Moreover, she brings it to life with wonderful vivacity, her gifts as a physical comedian to the fore, whether nailing 90s dance moves or letting her lip curl and eyes narrow sadistically whenever she recalls a love rival. And then there’s that voice, which in the second half especially, truly soars. She may yet get to storm the musicals in London’s West End.