Review: The Ballad of Lucy & Alexander, created and performed by Lucy & Alexander Tops

Performers: Lucy and Alexander Tops

Direct booking link:

Tickets: R50

Duration: 30 minutes

Oh my! What a treat. I had tears watching The Ballard of Lucy & Alexander on at the vNAF the virtual edition of The National Arts Festival, South Africa. The vNAF was scheduled to end July 31, 2020, but the festival has transitioned to a virtual stage and will remain up – indefinitely. This is incredible news. The scope of work is extraordinary. It is wonderful that the NAF will continue as digital stage.

Don’t miss The Ballard of Lucy & Alexander which has received a highly deserved 2020 Ovation Award.

Lucy Tops was 33 weeks pregnant when The Ballard of Lucy & Alexander was filmed at their home in Cape Town – using their mobile phonea. Impeccably scripted, designed and lit, this is a beautiful show. I have one complaint: It is too short- 30 minutes. I wanted more.

It is Lucy and husband, Alex in the frame as they talk about they met and the trajectory of their lives, in reaching this point, preparing for the birth of their first child. The show is a love letter to each other and their yet to be born child. Wesley Jackson was born July 24.

We see them in the lounge and outside as they wistfully talk about the situation now- in lockdown. Here they are, waiting for the birth of their child. Theatres are closed and they can’t work. They have no idea what the future holds. They do have each other; love and a shared and fierce passion for music. Lucy, got dressed up and put makeup on and Alex put on his hat and here they are, entertaining us.

Lucy: “I look forward to performing live again. There is nothing like performing live – that electricity that you share, bonding over a story or beautiful music…and I won’t look like a big potato then.” She utters almost in a whisper: “The Future – who knows what the future holds – and what will happen to the theatre…” For now, they are keeping it simple – and singing the songs they love; the songs that have connected them as couple and which connect them to their fans.

Lucy and Alexander Tops have worked extensively in mainstream productions – for example at The Fugard Theatre. Lucy was in Kinky Boots at The Fugard, last year. The Fugard announced recently that it has shut its doors, probably until the end of 2021. The Kalk Bay Theatre was an important platform for Lucy and Alex – for their own shows and the productions staged at the KBT. Operated by Ash Searle and Vanessa Harris- the KBT closed permanently – a casualty of the pandemic. Yeah, against that context, here we have this musical couple, stepping into the moment and putting on an amazing show of covers that speak to us of hope, memory and continuing. It is a ballad, lament and a lullaby -transcending the commonplace limitations of the pandemic.

Live theatre is very much about connections; communing with others.  The connection comes across profoundly in The Ballard of Lucy & Alexander– with the artists and us at home.  I love the vibe- almost home video that they have created – albeit a sassy and stylish home vid. There are no gimmicks or fancy effects. Fairy lights and a neon sign, The Romantix (their musical duo) injects showbiz glam. They have dressed up and dressed up their home for us. But, this is lockdown. They are not performing in a studio or theatre set up for lockdown filming. We can see Lucy trembling as she sings. She is singing through the panic and the fear- ‘hush little baby – everything will be okay’.

This is what Lucy sent to me, in response to my message that I loved the show: “We normally do character based shows but decided to work with what had available at home and so why not just share a little of who we are? Especially at such a special time in our lives and in such a strange time too. We filmed it literally when I was 33 weeks pregnant, starting to feel uncomfortable, breathing was different so it does affect your singing. We used our phones to film it and would record it live piece by piece. Our dog was our only audience member.”

✳For bookings of Lucy and Alex Tops, see

Image credit: Supplied.