Posts with the label review
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Thursday 25 April 2024

Bonnie and Clyde the Musical on tour delivers a Thrilling Theatrical Experience | New Victoria Theatre | Review


Bonnie and Clyde (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre

Originally blazing onto the Broadway scene in 2011, Bonnie and Clyde: The Musical quickly gained a cult following for its bold storytelling and infectious tunes. Since finally debuting in London 10 years later with a concert version in January 2022, the show has had a number of runs and now, it continues making waves with its UK tour, bringing a slice of American outlaw charm to a number of regional theatres. This is an electrifying production that captivates from start to finish. The dynamic rendition of the infamous duo's story brings a fresh perspective to the stage, blending catchy tunes with poignant storytelling and surprising amount of humour, all to make it a top shelf night at the theatre

Drawing from the true narrative, Bonnie and Clyde traces the journey of its titular characters from childhood aspirations – Bonnie dreaming of a glamorous life as a movie star like Clara Bow, and Clyde yearning for the outlaw allure of Billy the Kid. Their paths cross serendipitously, leading to a tumultuous life of crime that ultimately ends in tragedy. Interwoven within their tale is an unrequited love subplot and poignant glimpses into the economic hardships of the era, which effectively sheds light on the harsh realities that drove the Barrow Brothers to pursue a life of crime.

The leading roles in this show are demanding ones indeed, but Katie Tonkinson and Alex James-Hatton make them look effortless as they bring the outlaws to life and provide killer vocals. The chemistry between the pair is excellent and I found myself absorbed in their love (and death) story. This show thrives because of the way it humanises the duo, allowing you to really feel for them despite their law breaking. Their story is one that's been romanticised a thousand times and in this case that totally works. Sure, there's a lot of be said for not glamourising killers, but I think this age old tale gets a free pass and whilst the show does shy away a bit from really showing the pain they caused, it touches on it enough that you never forget their dark sides.

Speaking of dark, let's talk about the lighting design because, I love it. Zoe Spurr has done a fantastic job of using the lighting to highlight morality and emotion. For example during 'God's Arms Are Always Open' where the church scene is bathed in warm hues, contrasting with Clyde's crime spree depicted in stark white; and during 'Raise a Little Hell' (which is the stand out scene of the show for me)– the moment Clyde takes his first life, he is bathed in almost complete darkness with only a sliver of his face lit, it's really, really effective and dramatic.

Musically Frank Wildhorn and Don Black have crafted a show that's rocky and sexy and soulful. The music is catchy and really furthers the characters' emotional journey's rather than just filling in gaps. There are a tonne of stand out moments, and vocals that will certainly give you goosebumps. Ivan Menchell's book has some great moments and is multilayered both in terms of character and plot. The pacing is at times a little slow and I do think it could be tweaked a bit to get the adrenaline up a little more but there's still lots to enjoy.

All that being said, it's a wild, law-breaking escapade that'll have you on the edge of your seat, begging for more; so grab your tickets, round up your posse, and get ready to raise a little hell with Bonnie and Clyde in Woking and on tour. 

★★★★
Reviewed on Wednesday 24th April 2024
Photo Credit:

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Bonnie and Clyde the Musical on tour delivers a Thrilling Theatrical Experience | New Victoria Theatre | Review

Thursday 25 April 2024

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) at the Criterion Theatre Review: A Warm Hug of a Musical


Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York)
Criterion Theatre

Buckle up, because Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) at the Criterion Theatre is a rollercoaster of heartwarming goodness that’ll make you want to hug strangers on the tube home (maybe not advisable, but you get the vibe). The show, a recent transfer from the kiln Theatre is musical theatre romcom you've been waiting, like the best early 2000s rom-coms, but on stage, and with live-action vibes that'll have you grinning from ear to ear- it needs to be on your radar.

The story follows two total strangers, Robin and Dougal, who, by a twist of fate, find themselves on a wild journey through the bustling streets of New York City. Cue the quirky meet-cute, the awkward yet endearing conversations, and a whole lot of unexpected adventure. But what really sets this show apart is its knack for capturing the essence of the Big Apple. You'll feel like you're right there in the heart of NYC, dodging taxis and soaking in the neon lights.

Relentlessly optimistic Dougal heads across the pond to attend his father's wedding, and also to actually meet him for the first time. At the airport he's greeted by Robin, the bride's sister, who's job is to pick him up and then leave him be for the rest of the trip. Of course, that's not the case and the pair end up drawn to one another as they discover and rediscover the city, all whilst finding out about one another. It's as heartwarming as could be and is really just a hug of a musical.

The leading pair are like a perfect slice of New York pizza—full of flavour and impossible to resist. Their chemistry is off the charts, and you'll find yourself rooting for them every step of the way. As Robin, Dujonna Gift gives a brilliant performance, full of stereotypical New Yorker cynicism, but like us all, is soon charmed by her new British acquaintance Dougal. Her comedic timing is wonderful and she really draws us into her world and inner turmoil. In the role of the NYC Newbie, Sam Tutty is the embodiment of charismatic. His performance is hilariously funny and the undercurrent of deeper, darker emotions are wonderfully contrasted. A master of nuanced facial expressions that tell a thousand emotions, and vocals that soar and shine- Sam gives a top grade performance. The pair are perfectly matched and create some absolute theatrical magic on stage.

Aside from the story of the two characters altering each other's lives, this musical is, in every sense of the saying, a love letter to New York. Soutra Gilmour's design turns a revolving set of suitcases into a bustling city, where anything can happen and Tony Gayle's sound design highlights the ever present noise of Manhattan. Of course it's a romcom rose-coloured view, but there is some commentary on New York's darker side which helps ground the piece.

Musically, this show is like a playlist straight out of your favourite indie film, that's been musical theatre-ified. A mixture of styles create a soundtrack that feels genuinely unique and truly fun, setting the perfect mood for every scene. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll probably leave the theatre humming a catchy tune or two. The opening number, New York! is especially joyous and really sums up the show with humour, sincerity, awe, joy and a little bit of tension.

But perhaps the real star of the show is the script. It's sharp, it's witty, and packed with enough heart to fill Times Square. You'll find yourself laughing out loud multiple times and swooning at not only the characters, but the city on stage. Jim Barne's and Kit Buchan's writing is wonderfully fast paced and the characterisation of each lead is so strong. You almost forget you're watching a two person show when such a rich tapestry of a world is created.

In short, Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) is a delightful romp through the city that never sleeps. It's charming, it's heartwarming, and it's everything you could want in a night out at the theatre. I loved the way it joyously celebrates the 'normal' people and reminds us that even the smallest of meetings, can change our lives. So grab your metro (Oyster) card and get ready for a ride—you won't regret it.

★★★★
Reviewed on Tuesday 23rd April 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) at the Criterion Theatre Review: A Warm Hug of a Musical

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Wednesday 10 April 2024

2:22 A Ghost Story on Tour REVIEW: A Spooky Night Out


2:22 A Ghost Story (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre

Since premiering in the West End and playing at a number of theatres, 2:22 A Ghost Story has established itself as a must-see spooky night out.  It's a production that promises to thrill and entertain audiences, and definitely does just that.

Drawing from the personal experiences of playwright Danny Robbins, this haunting journey into the supernatural explores themes of love, loss, and enduring connections. The storyline is skilfully crafted, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats while infusing humour that enhances the realism. However, amidst the solid pacing and unexpected twists, the abundance of overacting in this touring version detracts from the authenticity, making it challenging to fully engage with the narrative. 

Set against the backdrop of a dinner party with minimal set changes, the focus remains on the characters so there's a lot riding on them. This cast, made up of Vera Chok, Jay McGuiness, George Rainsford and Fiona Wade, mostly succeed in creating a believable atmosphere, capturing the essence of a boozy evening, however at times, it really feels like you can see some of the performers acting and the line delivery is too over the top to be realistic. When I last saw the show, it almost felt as if you were a fly on the wall during the haunted dinner party, but this time everything is a bit more forced and over performed. The dynamics between the characters are there and you can understand the boiling pot of traumas and emotions that are sewn throughout, but they're not as impactful as when the play is performed with more nuance.

Additionally, while the sound effects aim to heighten the tension, they often feel conspicuous and unnecessary, failing to enhance the overall atmosphere. However, beyond these surface-level thrills, 2:22 A Ghost Story delves into social and economic issues, as well as the dichotomy between belief and science. This commentary adds depth to the production, and helps to create a genuinely good play.

Anna Fleischle's set design allows for spooky moments while maintaining the mundane setting of a family home. The attention to detail, combined with Lucy Carter's atmospheric lighting, provides a perfect backdrop for this ghostly tale.

2:22 A Ghost Story is definitely worth seeing. Despite its flaws, including excessive theatrics and unnecessary jump scares, the play offers moments of genuine suspense and an interesting array commentary.

★★★
Reviewed on Tuesday 9th April 2024 by Olivia

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2:22 A Ghost Story on Tour REVIEW: A Spooky Night Out

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Wild About You the Musical in Concert at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane: A Musical Misfire


Wild About You the Musical in Concert
Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Wild About You: The Musical in Concert presents a mixed bag of highs and lows. On one hand, the cast undeniably pours their heart and soul into every note and step, igniting the stage with energy and harmony during ensemble numbers, providing genuine excitement and joy for the audience. However, the love story it weaves isn't without its thorns. The music, while splendidly performed, lacks the emotional depth to truly resonate, resembling forgettable pop tunes rather than soul-stirring melodies. Similarly, the lyrics feel clichéd, failing to capture the complexity of human emotion, leaving much to be desired.

But perhaps the most glaring issue lies in the storytelling. The plot meanders like a lost tourist, introducing subplots only to abandon them moments later, resulting in a directionless narrative that fails to engage. The show feels like two separate shows, neither of which succeed in creating a cohesive story, leaving audiences more puzzled than swooning.

Despite the stellar cast, which includes luminaries like Rachel Tucker and Oliver Tompsett, the characters remain underdeveloped, with surface-level exploration hindering empathy. The ambitious score, while showcasing vocal prowess, suffers from disjointed pacing and inconsistency, detracting from the overall experience.

In the end, Wild About You falls short of its promise, leaving viewers longing for more substance amidst the spectacle. While it may have fared better as a play, the musical format exacerbates its shortcomings, ultimately delivering a tale of missed opportunities and half-hearted attempts at romance. For a concert production, with only a small amount of rehearsal, this was undeniably sleek and well put together but in my opinion, it would need a big overhaul to succeed as a full production.

★★

Reviewed on Tuesday 26th March by Olivia
Photo Credit: 

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Wild About You the Musical in Concert at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane: A Musical Misfire

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Monday 25 March 2024

Priscilla the Party at HERE at Outernet REVIEW: A Glitzy, Camp Night Out


Priscilla the Party
HERE at Outernet

Priscilla the Party is like stepping into a glittering dreamland where every corner is bursting with energy and excitement. From the moment you walk through the doors of the venue, you're greeted by pulsating beats and dazzling lights that promise a uniquely camp and sparkling experience. Following the adventures of three friends as they journey across the Australian outback aboard the iconic Priscilla bus, the plot is a rollercoaster of emotions that has you grinning from ear ear and dancing your way back onto Tottenham Court Road.

The venue itself is impressive, with its adaptable layout and top-notch sound design, HERE at Outernet ensures that every moment of the performance is delivered with crystal clarity. However, if you're on the shorter side, finding the perfect spot to catch all the action might require a bit of manoeuvring, as the stages aren't particularly high. Pro tip: head towards the front near the non-moving stage at the front for a great view and minimal movement.

Now, let's talk costumes. Each sequin and feather is a work of art, adding an extra layer of sparkle to an already glitzy affair. Tim Chappel and Lizzie Gardiner's designs are wonderfully extra, often providing humour alongside shine. There are also full glitter wigs which are just spectacular.

Equally spectacular are the cast who bring all the good vibes and deliver the story of drag queens travelling the outback so well. Leading proceedings, Trevor Ashley, Reece Kerridge, Dakota Starr and Owain Williams are absolute delights, bringing their characters to life with a level of energy and enthusiasm that's infectious; as well as showing moments of vulnerability which really add to the story.

But, as with any show, there are a few bumps along the way. The constantly shifting perspectives of the stages can sometimes make it hard to fully immerse yourself in the storyline, leaving you feeling a bit disconnected. The immersive aspect of the show is exciting and fairly unique but it doesn't always feel necessary with this show, especially when it stands so strongly on its own. While the pre-show performances are entertaining, they do have a tendency to drag on a bit, delaying the main event's grand entrance, plus, the choice of slow songs might not have been the best for getting the party started.

Despite these hiccups, Priscilla the Party delivers on its promise of a night filled with laughter. So, if you're in the mood for a night of joy and unadulterated fun, Priscilla the Party is the place to be. Embrace the campy atmosphere, lose yourself in the dazzling costumes, and get ready for a ride you won't soon forget. Despite its flaws, this glittering extravaganza is guaranteed to leave you with a smile.

★★★ 
Reviewed on Monday 25th March 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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Priscilla the Party at HERE at Outernet REVIEW: A Glitzy, Camp Night Out

Monday 25 March 2024

Tuesday 19 March 2024

I Should Be So Lucky on tour at the New Victoria Theatre REVIEW: A Misguided Melange of 80s Madness


I Should Be So Lucky (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre

In the sun-drenched world of I Should Be So Lucky: The Musical, there's a flicker of potential, but sadly, it fades quicker than the sparkle of a disco ball. The show, buoyed by a strong cast and glitzy staging, is fun but struggles to hit the high notes it aims for.

Let's start with the positives: the cast. They're the shining stars of this production, injecting life and energy into every scene. With their talent and charisma, they manage to elevate even the most lacklustre moments. Each member deserves applause for their efforts in salvaging what they can from the material. To name a few, Scott Paige brings hilarity to every moment of his stage time, Kayla Carter as Bonnie provides some wonderful vocals and her blossoming relationship with Ash played by Giovanni Spanò is one of the highlights of the show. Giovanni is laugh out loud funny and get to briefly show off his killer vocals. It's a bit of theme in the show that the amazing vocal talents of the cast don't get to really be shown off, due to the hundred other things that are happening throughout. This is definitely the case with Melissa Jacques as Shelley who is wonderful, but having seen her in Everybody's Talking About Jamie, I would've loved some more chances for her to sing and soar.

As I mentioned, there's a LOT going on. There are a heap of side plots and vague character references and development which never have enough time to really mean anything. It sort of feels like every idea made it into the show and there was no development or streamlining to make it work. Another issue is that the show borders between being super sincere and not taking itself too seriously, so at times you're unsure whether you're laughing with or at the show. There's certainly potential, but in it's current form, it feels like a strange fever dream.

Now, onto the staging. It's undeniably flashy, dripping with sequins and neon lights reminiscent of a Kylie concert. The set (Tom Rogers) is really good, and there's a certain thrill in watching the glitzy spectacle unfold. However, as the show progresses, the excitement begins to wane, revealing a repetitive pattern that feels more like a recycling of ideas than a deliberate artistic choice. The 80s music video vibes are real, but there's only so many times you can get joy from the heart shaped bed rolling onto the stage. 

Despite these glimmers of promise, I Should Be So Lucky: The Musical ultimately falls flat. While it may provide a momentary escape into a world of pop music and glamour, it lacks the substance needed to sustain interest beyond the surface. Thankfully the cast do wonder with what they're given, but even the most talented performers can't fully save this misguided show. Much like an 80s tune, it's enjoyable in the moment but quickly fades from memory.

★★
Reviewed on Monday 18th march 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

I Should Be So Lucky plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 23rd March and then continues its tour

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I Should Be So Lucky on tour at the New Victoria Theatre REVIEW: A Misguided Melange of 80s Madness

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Friday 1 March 2024

Standing at the Sky's Edge at the Gillian Lynne Theatre REVIEW: A Perfect Tale of Hope and Connection


Standing at the Sky's Edge 
Gillian Lynne Theatre 

Standing at the Sky's Edge is a captivating journey that swept me off my feet and left me utterly spellbound. From the moment the lights dimmed and the first notes filled the air, I was transported into a world where every emotion felt raw and real.

The story, set across three generations, unfolds with such grace and authenticity, drawing the audience into the lives of the characters living in Sheffield's iconic Park Hill estate. Through their joys and struggles, their dreams and disappointments, I found myself rooting for each one of them as if they were old friends.

Whilst this is technically a jukebox musical, it doesn't feel clunky as is so often the case. Richard Hawley's compositions, with Tom Deering's orchestrations are a beautiful fusion of rock, folk, and soul, each melody weaving its way into the narrative to really capture the essence of the musical. The lyrics are so poetic and heartfelt, they brought tears to my eyes and chills down my spine. This is a masterfully crafted musical that is so different to other West End offerings, in all the best ways.

Set wise, Ben Stones has done a glorious job, bringing the industrial feeling of Park Hill to life, but also capturing the warmth which filled it. Mark Henderson's fantastic lighting design also contributes to this realistic feeling, with even the first scene literally brining the sunrise to life. From the bustling streets of Sheffield to the towering heights of Park Hill, every detail is so meticulously crafted that I felt like I was actually there, witnessing the story unfold before my eyes. In my opinion this is a show which needs multiple visits because there's just so much to see, every nook of the stage is filled with action and there are so many stories going on that you could watch ten times and still spot something new!

But what truly struck me was the way this musical resonated with me on a personal level. Despite never having set foot in Sheffield, I felt a deep connection to the characters and their journey. Their struggles felt familiar, their triumphs felt like my own and whilst I didn't directly relate, the emotions portrayed are so genuine and truthful, you can't help but be moved by the tales of hurt and hope.

These intense feelings are a testament to the vast ensemble cast who are outstanding in every way. Elizabeth Ayodele as Joy brings subtle but effective character growth that melds to her surroundings, whilst Samuel Jordan is every level of charming as Jimmy, both also give brilliant vocal performances, a common theme throughout the cast. Opening the show, Jonathon Bentley sets the tone for the piece and showcases his beautiful voice which equally shines during his other solo moments. Perhaps the character with the biggest arc is Harry, portrayed with such nuance and integrity by Joel Harper-Jackson. Mesmerising is a word which gets thrown around a lot but Joel's performance is utterly the embodiment of it, as he brings to life a character that feels so multi-dimensional and showcases his innate acting ability. As his loving housewife partner who slowly finds her voice, Rachael Wooding is a powerhouse, with another slow burn performance that peaks in the second act and has sniffles filling the auditorium. Laura Pitt-Pulford gives one of my favourite vocal performances of the show with 'Naked in Pitsmoor' and again, brings to life her character Poppy perfectly. Lauryn Redding is her ideal counterpart, serving some wonderful vocals, especially during the title song and also bringing some lightness amongst the heavy themes of the show. The entirety of the cast bring this world to life and they're all stars. Mention must also go to the booming bassist who growls and grounds the Act two opening number 'Standing at the Sky's Edge'.

In the end, Standing at the Sky's Edge isn't just about the music or the set design – it's about the human experience. It's about love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit. It's a reminder that no matter where we come from, we're all connected by our shared humanity.

Standing at the Sky's Edge touched me in a way that few musicals ever have. It's a testament to the power of storytelling and the magic of theatre. If you have the chance to see it, don't hesitate – it's an experience you won't soon forget, and the act one opening is one of the best theatrical moments possible to see on stage right now.

★★★★★ 
Reviewed on Thursday 29th February 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

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Standing at the Sky's Edge at the Gillian Lynne Theatre REVIEW: A Perfect Tale of Hope and Connection

Friday 1 March 2024

Friday 23 February 2024

Just For One Day at the Old Vic REVIEW: Pitch Perfect Peformances


Just For One Day: The Live Aid Musical
The Old Vic

Written by John O'Farrell, Just For One Day transports audiences back to 1985, to the historic Live Aid concert held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium and JFK Stadium. Through the eyes of various characters, including musicians, organisers, and fans, the musical captures the spirit of unity and hope that defined this iconic event. Against the backdrop of global issues and personal struggles, the show celebrates the power of music to inspire change and bring people together.

With direction by Luke Sheppard, the musical is a poignant homage to the legendary Live Aid concert, offering a nostalgic journey through one of music's most iconic moments. While the musical may not reach the heights of the original event, it nonetheless succeeds in capturing its essence and paying tribute to the artists and activists who made it possible. It's definitely a musical that can appeal to and appease a wide range of audiences; as someone who wasn't alive during the original concert, I completely felt the importance and excitement that surrounded it, whilst my mum who regaled her story of watching the concert on a tiny screen in Cyprus during her honeymoon, wholly felt the nostalgia and related in a different way.

The strength of Just For One Day lies in its stellar cast, who deliver powerful performances that breathe life into the characters they portray. Craig Els leads the show as Bob Geldof and does a stellar job, bringing a brilliant amount of humour but also a sense of gravitas when discussing the atrocities of the Ethiopian famine which put the whole thing in motion.

Danielle Steers shines every moment, bringing her usual astoundingly soulful vocals, whilst Jack Shalloo is a complete standout as Midge and Abiona Omonua is charming as Amara. At this performance Margaret Thatcher was played by Kerry Enright who is absolutely fantastic, providing some of the most hilarious and well characterised moments of the show. Vocally this is a cacophony of powerhouses, with everyone providing killer moments but special mention goes to Olly Dobson and Collette Guitart who really shine, I wish they got more solo moments! Rhys Wilkinson also brings fantastic characterisation to all of the roles he plays.

Unsurprisingly, the musical's soundtrack is another highlight, featuring an array of classic hits from the 1980s that have audiences tapping their feet and singing along. Accompanied by a talented live band, the music transports viewers back in time, evoking the same sense of excitement and camaraderie that defined the original Live Aid concert.

Where the show doesn't quite work is with it's book. The production takes a deliberate approach to steer clear of hero worship towards Geldof, opting instead to spotlight the unsung heroes who contributed behind the scenes. However, while the inclusion of fictionalised narratives aims to showcase the efforts of everyday individuals, these characters often come across as shallow and their dialogue occasionally falls into clichéd one-liners. The sentiment is lovely, but it's not hugely impactful. However, the way music is woven into these stories is really admirable; songs aren't just shoehorned in, they're used to develop the stories being told and even seem to take on new meaning in the context of the show.

Another aspect which falls flat is the actual trauma which prompted the concert. There are some attempts at highlighting the pain and horrors of the famine but it feels a bit sanitised and brushed over, so as not to detract from the feel-good feeling the show pushes. Of course no one wants to fetishise the suffering of others, but in omitting a lot of the horrors, it doesn't allow the show to have quite as strong of an emotional impact.

Visually, this show is a feast for the eyes, with dynamic staging (Soutra Gilmour) and vibrant costumes (Fay Fullerton) that capture the spirit of the 1980s. Creative use of multimedia elements (Andrzej Goulding) and striking lighting (Howard Hudson) further enhances the experience, immersing audiences in the sights and sounds of the era. This is a show that really lends itself to touring and could certainly thrive and develop in that capacity, it will be interesting to follow where it goes after this initial run.

Just For One Day may not be without its flaws, but it's a heartfelt tribute to Live Aid and its message of hope and solidarity make it a worthy addition to the stage. For fans of 1980s music and those who fondly remember the original concert, this musical is sure to strike a chord.

★★★
Reviewed on Thursday 22nd February 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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Just For One Day at the Old Vic REVIEW: Pitch Perfect Peformances

Friday 23 February 2024

Thursday 22 February 2024

Hadestown at the Lyric Theatre REVIEW: A Soul-Stirring Journey to the Depths of Hell


Hadestown
Lyric Theatre

There are musicals that touch your soul and for me that’s Hadestown. I first saw the show in 2018, where I went in completely blind and came out gob smacked and awed. Tonight after the official West End opening night, I feel equally awed as well as inspired, moved, astounded, heartbroken and overjoyed. There really aren’t adjectives to describe how heartfelt and special this show is. Not only is it a piece of fantastic quality theatre but it’s also a poem, a concert, a celebration of life and humanity, an ode to music and above all, a love story.

Hadestown tells the tale of young Orpheus and Eurydice as their tales intertwine. It's a musical retelling of the ancient Greek myth of the duo and follows the journey of Orpheus as he descends into the underworld, determined to rescue his beloved Eurydice from the clutches of the charismatic but menacing Hades. Despite the various iterations and productions this musical has gone through, one constant is how scarily relevant the themes it explores feel in our modern world. Hades, ruler of the underworld and the mines, ostensibly grants "freedom" through employment while simultaneously confining his subjects behind a barrier. Why We Build The Wall is certainly one of the most pertinent songs of the production, its relevance hits all too close to home in the current world.

The musical borders the line between acting as "the world we live in, and the one we dream about", in thanks part to Rachel Hauck's set. Scaled down slightly from the National Theatre production, it still evokes Depression-era vibes and cleverly frames the story. Bradley King's lighting literally highlights some of the most astounding moments of the show, especially during Hades' peak moments, as well as casting shadows to create an almost cinematic feel; overall it's just an incredibly cohesive show that has a vibe and aesthetic that matches it so well.

This undefined world is perhaps best showcased by Anaïs Mitchell's incredible score which combines so many styles a creates such special storytelling. The intricate lyrics allow layers upon layers of emotions to form as Anaïs weaves a musical tapestry that is charming and delightful at times, but gritty and painful at others. Mitchell has truly crafted a musical masterpiece that transcends time and genre and creates a theatrical experience like no other.

Director Rachel Chavkin has meticulously pored over each performer, set element, musician, and lighting effect to craft a production that leaves us suspended between despair and hope. This version of the show also feels perfectly tweaked for the West End, with the use of the performer’s natural accents making the whole thing feel very real and grounded, an inspired change! David Neumann's precise choreography fits seamlessly with the revolving stage, continually moving between frenetic energy and poignant stillness that works so well. This is a piece which is so reliant on balance, the balance between good and bad, love and hate, light and dark, loud and quiet, beauty and pain, among others, and the entire cast and creative team have perfectly understood and managed this balance to form a musical that leaves you not quite sure what emotion you're experiencing, but 100% sure you experienced something special.

At it's core this is a story about people, and the people who lead it are wonderful. As the headstrong Eurydice, Grace Hodgett Young is everything you could ask for in a leading lady, her calm is as strong as her passion and she fills every moment with charisma. There’s often mention of “stage presence” but it’s rare you see the phrase as outwardly displayed as with Grace who commands even the smallest of moments. Of course she’s also vocally dreamy, showcasing all layers of her voice and perfectly bringing the vocal grit that’s so necessary for the role. Her easy swagger and playfulness is a perfect balance to Orepheus' more nervous persona. Taking on the role of this heartstrong counterpart, Donal Finn is delightfully whimsical and charming. Donal's Orpheus truly comes into his own during act two when his passion for his partner and also his music are on full display and his voice becomes a beacon of hope cutting through the darkness of despair. It's utterly heartbreaking when we reach the expected conclusion, a testament to the emotion the cast pour out to get us to that point.

As the enigmatic Hermes, Melanie La Barrie is all parts wonderful, her presence commanding the stage with every word and gesture and bringing humour and gravitas in equal measure. Her performance weaves together the threads of myth and legend with an all knowing wisdom that seems to transcend time, she truly gives everything on stage and is a marvel to behold.

Hadestown is more than a musical—it's an experience, a testament to the enduring power of art to touch the very depths of our souls. It's a rare gem that shines brightly in the landscape of contemporary theatre, a reminder that sometimes, even in the darkest of times, there is still beauty to be found.

In the hallowed halls of the Lyric Theatre, you can bear witness to something truly extraordinary. Hadestown is a triumph in every sense of the word and it needs to be seen.

★★★★★
Reviewed on Wednesday 21st February 2024 by Olivia Mitchell
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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

Hadestown at the Lyric Theatre REVIEW: A Soul-Stirring Journey to the Depths of Hell

Thursday 22 February 2024