This is no murder mystery, no ‘The Mirrorball Crack’d’ – the killer couldn’t be more obvious if he were twirling a moustache. And this is a show so unsubtle that it’s almost a surprise that he doesn’t.
The characters are almost uniformly one-dimensional, drawn in crude, glitter-speckled strokes, a comic strip writ large. But all the actors know exactly what it is, ensure their performances are as broad as the characters are shallow, and encourage the audience to buy into just how ridiculous – and fun – the show can be.
Alice Walker’s classic novel, adapted first into an acclaimed film and then a musical, makes its London debut in the latter form with an assured production that showcases some of our finest musical theatre talent – while also producing an incredibly moving and emotional tale of abuse and survival, and of rejection of the idea that subjugation of anyone can be tolerated.
The show gives the best moments, the best numbers and the best lines to the Broadway-obsessed Sister Mary Robert, and Alastair Knights takes full advantage. Stealing ensemble scenes with gay abandon, it is his solo numbers – and his wimple-based impressions – which will remain in the memory.
St James’s Theatre Studio, July 13 – touring until October 26
Alexandre Dumas’ novel has formed the basis of several musical interpretations before… None has dared attempt to stage it as a cross-dressing, four-person a cappella production, though – and after this riotous evening, one can only feel the other productions are missing a trick.
One of the highlights at Seth Rudetsky: Deconstructing Broadway (full review available on Musical Theatre Review) was Rudetsky’s demolition of this: Cher, taking on multiple roles within West Side Story. Check out her, erm, “rendition” of I Feel Pretty at 3:30…
Another review for Musical Theatre Review, this time for Ruby in the Dust’s The Great Gatsby at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios.
A fringe musical of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby could never compete on scale or budget with Baz Luhrmann’s $100 million-plus Hollywood adaptation. But nor should it attempt to – and Ruby in the Dust’s production wisely shuns trying. Instead, the limitations inherent within Fringe theatre become its greatest strength, focusing on the crumbling foundations on which the façades of hedonistic 1920s opulence are constructed.
It’s an interesting experience, writing essentially the same content to two very different word lengths…