It’s been another busy week of seeing theatre – from the sublime to the ridiculous, and back…
I didn’t see last year’s ‘semi-staged’ version of Sweeney Todd with Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson, but heard of disappointment in its staging which lowered my expectations of this year’s offering from GradeLinnit Productions. However, it’s about as impressively staged as a production which gives price of place to an onstage orchestra could be.
And so to the biggest disappointment of the week – a play which takes one of Britain’s biggest and most successful recording artists, with a career that spans decades, and reduces it to a shoddy retelling of the least musically inspiring period of his life. The book is dreadful and repetitive, music is all but absent from the first act… After the cast have taken their bows, a brief ten-minute run through some of Jones’s biggest hits shows that the cast have the prowess to pull off an energetic concert that can wake the whole theatre up. One can only guess why they’ve been prevented from doing so in the show proper.
Wednesday: Guys and Dolls, Phoenix Theatre, London
Curse, you TodayTix. I was planning to have an evening off theatre this week, but your last-minute purchase deals are so tempting…
The first act of this musical is a little overlong, with book scenes that make one long for the next song: but when it comes along, you get swept away in a celebration of the best in classic musical theatre.
Thursday: Radioman, Old Red Lion Theatre
I had no expectations of this production, save for an intriguing YouTube video which suggested it would be, at the very least, unconventional. But I remembered the name Felix Trench from a graduate show five years ago, which I attended to support my friend (and his fellow graduate) Sadie. Something about his performance must have remained with me – and that same quality of sticking in your head for ages afterwards also belongs to this fabulist monologue, which should be essential viewing for any fan of fringe theatre.
Ending the week, a delightful confection that celebrates the joys of American close harmony groups of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The quartet of performers pull off the show’s comedic framing device well, but the real star is the music, to which all involved give due reverence. A joy.