Review: Kravitz, Cohen, Bernstein And Me

Deb Filler's three Leonards show celebrates life and song

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Aug 2023
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Fest magazine

Deb Filler’s earliest brush with fame came many years ago in New Zealand, when she was just a small child, and she achieved brief local newspaper recognition as ‘the Singing Baby’. Many years have passed since then, among then 21 since she was last at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

She puts a sense of her experience into this autobiographical tale of “(mostly) true storytelling”, according to her flyer. The three names of the title belong to famous musical performers with the first name ‘Leonard’, all of whom Filler has a personal story about. The truth of each of these stories seems clearly over-egged, but still endearing and enjoyable. Whether or not Leonard Bernstein really did play for her alone during an Auckland soundcheck because her father baked him some Jewish bread, is a moot point in the face of a well-told tale. Likewise, Leonard Cohen might have ridden in her car when she worked for a celebrity chauffeur company, but did she nearly destroy the only recording of ‘Hallelujah’ in existence?

Her encounter with Lenny Kravitz at a gig seems least likely. Yet the show is more about the shared Jewish background of all four characters, Filler included than the music. Her life has taken her to work in America and to settle in Canada, and through her stories of travel and her warm memories of the culture and language – at one point during this mostly spoken piece she even sings the Beatles in Yiddish – she celebrates both life as a migrant and music which has broken borders.