Mini-reviews of several plays on the London stage from an off-duty U.S. reviewer's journal of a London theatre immersion.
I had seen this show 3 times in the past month. My 15-
year-old-daughter was playing Sally Simpson. The show here was so good that I wanted to see how the
$5 million London production compared to the $30,000 local one. Great show.
Phenomenal special effects. Outstanding cast. The Acid Queen could melt
asbestos. My kid and the female lead here could have stepped into the
roles, been nudged on the blocking and improved the show -- that's saying
something since it was superb to begin with. I was one of about 15 in the
audience to give it a standing ovation. It's high energy fun plus poignancy
from start to finish. It's singable 60's rock. If you are into musicals
and/or are a baby boomer, get the CD soundtrack. I'd be quite happy to see
I chose this because it was about as British as you could get and by
Andrew Lloyd Webber to boot. Veddy Veddy British. Too British. It was
"fun." It harkened back to the British music hall tradition rather
than "Phantom." Very few songs, almost no dance. If I'da known what I
was getting I'da made a different choice. Light, charming, amusing. No
substance, no musical thrills, no staging. (The premise is a fundraiser in
which the host ends up having to improvise all the entertainment. A
mistaken identity farce rounds things out.)
"An Inspector Calls"
A rather Brechtian symbolist drama with the
theme that our actions affect others. Heavy-handed repetition of same
characterized the show, with starving huddled masses nearly ever present as
witnesses to the callousness of the rich.
Stellar special effects (especially for a straight drama) including
real rain and the literal disintegration of the home of the rich family.
High emotional fireworks between the characters, but no emotional point of
reference for the audience. It was too ensemble in this sense, with no
central character with whom one could identify. I guess that suits its
"MacBeth" (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Wow! I'm not much of a classical buff, but that is in part because
Shakespeare is usually entombed in respect and undone by good intentions.
Skip local productions anywhere. (Ok, Ny'ers - Shakespeare in the Park is
up there at the top of the "yes" list.) This is the only time I've seen
what I knew was supposed to be comic relief played as such. The Hall
Porter scene was hysterical. Low brow physical comedy the way the
bear-baiting audiences in Will's day would have wanted it. I have brushed
off my video tape collection of the Bard, even though I know that spark
will be missing.
La creme de la creme. "Les Miz" meets "Stomp." Incredible
choreography. Repetitious, but so good, it was forgiveable. From the team
that created "Les Miz" and "Miss Saigon." Wonderful soaring music, gorgeous
staging, as always with Cameron Macintosh and company, the best of the best.
So what if the aforementioned and "Phantom" are even better and if a tune or
two bore a hint of their predecessors? This was one of the best of the
best. I did not find it as emotionally involving as its sister plays, but
since I was at the point of exhaustion of having microsleeps by the finale,
I can't fault the show for that.
The American film, "Sommersbie" (Richard Geere, Jodie Foster) was
based on the same French folk tale. The movie made me cry. The musical did
If you want more on London theatre, click here.
Editor's note: More reviews by Karen can be found at her own Web site
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