The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at the Southwark Playhouse review: A masterclass in storytelling

Friday 9 June 2023

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Southwark Playhouse

If you're wanting to see arguably the most mesmerising production in London right now, then look no further than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the musical at Southwark Playhouse. From the stunning writing to the exceptional performances, this production is a moving celebration of life and the boundless capacity to find joy in unexpected places.

The writing (book and lyrics by Jethro Compton and music and lyrics by Darren Clark) is nothing short of extraordinary. It beautifully captures the essence of F. Scott Fitzgerald's timeless story, seamlessly translating it into a theatrical masterpiece which sweeps you up and takes your heart on an incredible journey. The script is both poignant and thought-provoking, delving deep into the profound themes of aging, love, and the significance of every moment we encounter. The fast paced lyrics are witty and woven together so well. The musical tenderly tugs at the heartstrings, leaving the audience reflecting on their own lives and the choices that shape our existence.

One cannot help but be enthralled by this show which really is the whole package. Every single moment feels well thought out and you can't help but notice how much care has gone into creating this show. A very strong aspect of this musical is the attention to the sound and lighting which accompanies the story. Zoe Spurr's lighting design has whimsical elements and the interplay between light and shadow creates a really magical visual tapestry, accentuating the emotional depth of the narrative. Each scene is carefully crafted to transport the audience through the passage of time, immersing us in the ever-changing world of Benjamin Button. Luke Swaffield's sound design further enhances the atmosphere, adding depth and texture to the production, as well as being perfectly balanced so that the music packs a punch and hits you in the gut but doesn't come across too loud or over the top.

Cast wise, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button features universally delightful performances. Each member delivers stellar vocals, acting and music (each person plays various instruments throughout), bringing the characters to life with authenticity and charisma. Their vocal prowess and impeccable timing are truly commendable, adding another layer of brilliance to an already captivating production. The chemistry among the cast members is palpable, creating an enchanting dynamic that draws the audience deeper into the story.

It's hard to mention specific people because the cast are a constellation of stars but mention must go to Jamie Parker who is astounding as Benjamin Button. His performance is incredibly layered and transformative. It really is a masterclass in how physicality and subtle changes can completely make a performance. As his love interest, Molly Osbourne is glorious and also shows excellent growth and character development. Across the board the vocals are divine so hopefully a cast recording is on the way!

This is a perfectly wrapped show that delivers on every base. 

To sum it up, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the musical at Southwark Playhouse is an absolute triumph. With its stunning writing, this production is a must-see for anyone who loves good storytelling. It's the sort of show you want to bottle up and bring out when you're feeling down. I wish I could see it again for the first time but I know that any subsequent visits will be just as endearing and wonderful. Don't miss your chance to embark on this enchanting journey of love, loss, and the beauty found in every moment of life.

Reviewed on Wednesday 7th June by Olivia Mitchell
photo credit: Juan Coolio

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}