There are many levels on which to experience this production. It Is one of those far too rare occasions when the enjoyable and stimulating meet. In short, it is an evening when the avant-garde introduces itself to the popular and gives birth to a knockout evening.
'LIVERPOOL ECHO' - October 1997 (Review by Keith Gladdis)
In the hands of a lesser talent, The 7 Ages of Woman could be a disaster and an embarrassing one at that. But with Barbara Dickson it has a star who turns it into a triumph with a peformance that sizzles with passion and verve.
The show chronicles a woman's journey from the cradle to the grave with the music from favourites such as Lennon and McCartney, Randy Newman and Willy Russell. In terms of structure, that is as complex as it gets because this is a performance rather than a plot-based musical. And what a stunning performance it is.
Dickson's voice is phenomenal. Tracey Chapman's Behind The Wall is filled with emotion and the celebration of Carole King's Natural Woman gives a rousing finale to the first half.
The variety of the songs on offer, however, mean that some are stronger than others. Few could better Dickson when it comes to singing Easy Terms from Blood Brothers.
... The impressive set provides mood and atmosphere enhanced by images projected on screens above the cast.
Backed by musicians who are not afraid to perform, Dickson appears to relish her time on stage. As does guitarist Andrew Schofield who comes to the fore in some of the show's best moments, such as the poignant Tom Waits' song Picking Up After You. And he even had Dickson laughing during an hilarious performance of When I'm 64.
But the night belonged to Dickson and she left the stage to a standing ovation.
'EVENING ARGUS' - 1998 (Review by Mike Bacon)
Singer and actress Barbara Dickson has to be among the top ten most versatile talents in British theatre. This superb show is a life-time of music condensed into a magical two hours. It's something different and original, it's a feast of songs... Barbara shines among a wealth of talent and it is near impossible to select highlights. There is her wonderful treatment of tradtional Scottish songs like 'Fine Flowers In The Valley' and 'MacCrimmon's Lament'.
'DERBYSHIRE TIMES' - 28 May 1998 (Review by Lesley Fields)
As she and her top-notch instrumentalists took the show through its fascinating paces, she assumed a myriad of roles, from the frightened child to the reluctant bride, the hard-up mother to the whore to the junkie. Sometimes it was so touching it hurt, like Lennon and McCartney's 'She's Leaving Home'; deliciously funny, as with The Worst Pies in London, or raunchy and upbeat with 'It's Money That I Love'...
It's a brave show with music and words showing women as they are and what they often have to endure. I admired such honesty as much as the production's considerable polish.
'BIRMINGHAM METRONEWS' - 1998 (Review by Z Chamberlain)
It seems there is no role too big for Barbara Dickson - The 7 Ages of Woman sees her as a prostitute, a supermum, a crackhead and a gutsy old woman.
Some 30 songs summed up a universal woman whose many twists were eagerly recognised by the strong female audience. Moody video screens symbolise the meaning of classics like 'Natural Woman', 'In My Life', 'Behind the Wall' and When I'm 64'. And when Barbara sang accapella you could have heard a pin drop... just go along with an open mind and lap up the magnificent voice.
THE 7 AGES OF WOMAN
'EVENT MAGAZINE' - October 23, 1997
(Review by Kate O'Brien)
This is the kind of performance that is difficult to categorise. It is a play virtually without dialogue, a collection of songs spanning an array of eras and styles. What does one call a performance such as this? It is a musical account of women's experience delivered with such tenderness, irony, humour and insight into the "human condition" as only Barbara Dickson knows how.
Stylistically, this is a rewarding production. Liberated from the constraints of traditional narrative-based plays, 'The 7 Ages of Woman' is an audio-visual extravaganza. Enormous screens surround the stage, onto which are projected a relay of images from both classical art and popular culture. These images compliment the song's sentiments, adding an extra dimension to the stage performance and enriching the overall theatre experience.
Artistic director Richard Williams illustrates both nerve and good sense through this choice of production. 'The 7 Ages of Woman' fits tentatively into what could be considered a "typical" Playhouse repertory.
The non-narrative form and multi-media approach articulate notions of Post Modern performance, while the choice and delivery of the songs is strictly traditional, in the style of popular successes such as "Blood Brothers". It is hardly surprising then, that 'Easy Terms' is a part of the repertoire.
Since her Playhouse debut in 'Blood Brothers', Liverpool audiences have considered that particular song 'the Barbara Dickson anthem' and there was an air of expectation throughout the auditorium that she should sing it. She more than satisfied her audience by doing just that.