Director Judith Paris and Performer Anthony Cable seek to examine the complex man behind the songs. Cable’s approach to the songs - as well as the man - is duly informed by dark bitterness, rage and anger. It may inevitably be a little bleak but Cable brings a dark intensity that reveals the songs in a deeply personal light

If you think Brel is brill you’re almost certain to enjoy Anthony Cable’s bravura interpretations of 15 of the Belgian singer’s most famous chansons, rendered in a mixture of English and French. From Ne Me Quitte Pas to Madeleine and Amsterdam, the performance showcases the much mythologised songwriter’s most celebrated works. Evocative musical accompaniment comes courtesy of pianist and arranger Stuart Barr and accordionist Franco Bozac.

BREL’S BRILLIANCE CAPTUREDWriter/director Judith Paris has Brel reminisce from a near death vantage point. It’s a notoriously tricky path to navigate, between the Scylla of excess and the Charybdis of under explanation. “What is love?” asks Brel. “What is art?”. Cable sings 15 of the more than 400 songs that Brel wrote with remarkable passion in both French and English. Aficionados tend to get a bit antsy when Brel is given the Anglophone treatment but Cable has supplied some sensitive translations.

The Brel of Judith Paris’s incisive script is fuelled by determination. There’s a driven quality, an intensity that reflects the man we see looking back over his life. This ever striving, self demanding artist in Paris’s production for Songmerchants, is in the strong, Brel like, hands of Anthony Cable. This is a singer who can reach the heart and the extremities of each number, can shape and structure it, build and maintain momentum or stretch out a line flexibly with silken ease. Stuart Barr’s fine arrangements with Franco Bozac on the accordion are key components in this tremendous show which must transfer, if only to give me the excuse to review it again.

Anthony Cable gave a fabulous insight into many aspects of the legend that is Jacques Brel. Cable’s dialogue between the songs succeeded best when the stories were anecdotal - such as the brief but very descriptive story of Brel’s film career. The staging, lighting and choreography were particularly effective and the accompaniment of piano and accordion set the scene perfectly. Cable switched seamlessly back and forth singing in French and English and he unquestionably sang from the heart. His ability to portray Brel’s character through the brilliant lyrics was pure entertainment.

Adapter les chefs d’oeuvre de Jacques Brel en anglais c’est le defi qu’ a releve a Londres le comedian britannique Anthony Cable. Le public vibre en ecoutant Ne Me Quitte Pas en francais Les Marquises en francais et en anglais, ou Madeleine. “Avec Brel, la beaute des chansons ne vient pas seulement du sens des paroles mais aussi de la sonorite des mots ensemble”, explique Anthony Cable, admirateur inconditionnel du chanteur.

Interpreter Jacques Brel en francais quand on est anglais: cette gaguere le comedian britannique Anthony Cable l’a reussie dans son spectacle “Jacques Brel Une Rage De Vivre” Ce one man show dirige par Judith Paris captive un auditoire. Dans son interpretation personelle et poignant, Anthony Cable apporte une puissante intensite qui ouvre de nouvelles perspective

Over the Christmas and New Year period 2007-8, we were very proud to present Jacques Brel - The Rage to Live. The production was very simply presented but with great class and panache. Anthony Cable imbued Brel with an intensity and power which was utterly mesmerising and absorbing. His voice was strong and passionate as he sang some of Brel’s well known songs while also recounting his life.

There was much interest in the show and we were delighted when it began to sell out. Tickets were at a premium – we were turning people away, a happy and sad thing to do.

We would happily have the show again at the New End. I cannot give it a greater recommendation.

Ninon Jerome - Executive Director

Judith Paris' inspired one man show Jacques Brel - The Rage to Live was workshopped at The Rosemary Branch Theatre as part of our Branching Out season in November 2007. Judith has used our theatre as a seedbed for many of her projects and audiences have always found them stimulating, beautifully written, and produced and performed to a high professional standard. This is why we always welcome her back.

The Brel show was no exception and we had a full house for the night. Anthony Cable's marvellous voice is ideally suited to the songs and his translations witty and musical. The clever intermingling of French and English allows the audience to enjoy the subtleties of the lyrics. Judith has teased out a fine performance from him ranging from the humour and innocence of some of Brel's early works through songs of passion and desperation and finally to a kind of angry acceptance. We are compelled to believe in him and are swept along with the man and his music skilfully coloured with Stuart Barr's evocative arrangements.

Cecilia Darker - Artistic Director
Jacques Brel - The Rage to Live was workshopped at the Rosemary Branch Theatre prior to the Christmas season at the New End Theatre. It was performed in front of an invited audience and was over-subscribed, such was the interest generated within the local French speaking community and Brel fans who know and love Brel’s work.

A comments sheet was made available to the audience. This is a selection of the comments made:
"A real tour de force - beautifully and emotionally sung and seamlessly supported by a fine accompanist"
"The energy of the show was phenomenal - what an inspiring piece"
"Outstanding - sensitive and absolutely convincing interpretation of Brel's songs, conveying the warmth, the irresistible drive"
"Text very well written - effortlessly leading into song."


I programmed Jacques Brel – The Rage to Live at the Wimbledon Studio in Wimbledon Theatre. This is a terrific performance in both French and English and was a sell out. The performance by Anthony Cable and direction by Judith Paris is exemplary and I would recommend Brel to any theatre or arts centre programmer looking for sophisticated, well sung music theatre.

Jonathan Kennedy, former Head of Studio & Programme Development at Wimbledon Theatre