Marie Lloyd Stole My Life review – Edinburgh Festival Fringe ★★★☆☆

3 mins read

Marie Lloyd Stole My Life from Blue Fire Theatre is an hour long piece of storytelling, incorporating songs popular from the Victorian-era Music Halls. 

This is one of those shows at the 2023 Fringe which falls into the category of ‘hidden moments from history’.


Lottie Walker plays Nelly Power – who was a huge star in the late Victorian music halls. Music halls were the popular cultural phenomenon of their era, with thousands of people cramming into the huge buildings every evening. 

The performers who appeared became incredibly famous, and often very wealthy. It was a field in which women were prominent – and also earning the top wages. 

Nelly Power was one of these huge stars, capitalising on the audience’s love for her as she developed her act. 

As was common for the time, Nelly messed around with notions of gender, playing both male and female characters in her time treading the boards.


This show aims to give us a potted history of Nellie’s life, based on the few facts that have been discovered about her. Songs from the period are interwoven through the narrative. Audience participation is encouraged.

Walker, accompanied by James Hall on piano, spins a captivating tale. The framing device could be stronger – at times it was easy to forget the overarching narrative. 

The title refers to the other well known music hall star of the Victorian, and later Edwardian eras – Marie Lloyd. For as popular as Power was, she was outshone by Lloyd – who made an unfortunate habit of stealing the acts of other performers, at a time when specific songs were a performer’s trademark.  

As played here, Power is angry about this – but perhaps not as enraged as might be expected. It would have allowed more light and shade in the piece as a whole if Nellie had been more emotional about this act of betrayal that contributed to her career fading. 

Off-stage, Power’s life was just as dramatic. More of this aspect of her life would have helped to give more depth to Nelly. As it was, Power’s husband, and their entire relationship, was dealt with in one brief scene. 

Final Thoughts

Generally, more depth to the various aspects of Nelly’s life: her early years, professional work, personal relationships, would have made the story richer. 

This is a solid piece of theatre which, with some refinement to the script, could become a strong reflection on the price women must pay to advance themselves. Recommended for those with an interest in the history of popular culture, the entertainment industry, or the history of women’s labour.

Marie Lloyd Stole My Life continues at the Edinburgh Fringe until 25th August
Featured Image Credit – Edinburgh Fringe Society

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