Inside a darkened auditorium a shadowy figure rushes down the aisle before emerging on stage.
As the lights go up, a slightly flustered but beaming brunette greets us.
Welcome to Sue’s world.
For the next hour or so we’re taken on a musical tour de force of her life – from her childhood memories of eating tea with her mum and dad, to her time at a Swiss finishing school and her travels on a bus through Cardiff.
We also experience a Cardiff Armageddon and are treated to an ode to Julia Roberts as Sue commemorates the Hollywood star’s movie Sleeping With The Enemy.
My Name Is Sue is the brainchild of Cardiff composer, playwright and performer Dafydd James, who is outstanding as he energetically portrays Sue, and writer-director Ben Lewis.
The production is a cross between theatre, cabaret and a comedy gig. As Sue plays the piano with skill and sings about her experiences in a soaring falsetto voice, she’s like a modern day Victoria Wood (minus the hostess trolley).
Sue is joined by a backing band made up of three other ‘Sues’ who each have the same brunette wig and frumpy clothes. Unlike the leading lady, they don’t break into a single smile between them but they bring a solid musical contribution.
My Name Is Sue became a cult musical hit after winning the Total Theatre Award for music and theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2009.
Now it’s about to make a comeback at the world famous festival next month when it plays a key role in the opening of Edinburgh theatre Underbelly’s new multi-million pound purpose-built studio venue – the Topside.
This performance at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff was the only Edinburgh warm-up but judging by the crowd’s reaction, James has got it spot-on once again.
Full of energy and humour, it was also surprisingly touching in places as you empathised with this somewhat odd-ball character’s misfortunes.
Edinburgh audiences are in for another treat.
My Name Is Sue is at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from August 12 to 26. For details, visit www.edfringe.com