Reviews

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Here are some quick reviews of notable shows I've managed to see in London's West End with my good buddy Hector (thanks to him, all these shows were thoroughly analized with great fun and laughter... what a delight going to the "theatre" is with him!)...

*Sweeny Todd
Oh boy! This is truly one of the greatest musicals I've ever seen (and I've seen quite a few, hehe). The music and lyrics and story line blend beautifully and bring to life the dark and tragic tale of Sweeny Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The production was somewhat abstract, making the storytelling a bit confusing at times, but this minor distraction could not hide what a masterpiece of modern musical theatre this show is. The actors played most of the instruments in this production so it was quite fun to see, hehe. It was well sung (nothing too extraordinary) and all in all a great time. Highly recommendable.


*Grand Hotel
The Donmar Warehouse put on this revival and they do have a knack for producing good musicals (Sam Mendes' AMAZING revival of "Cabaret" premiered here). I had never heard the score or seen the show, but it was quite a treat to see the beautiful and decadent German society of the twenties brought to life in this show. The story is serviceable and the score is quite fun... and the leading man was SOOOOO handsome it was hard concentrating on the show when he was onstage, hahaha. Another one to recommend. Also, a good performance by Mary Elisabeth Mastrontonio (of "Robin Hood: Prince of thieves" fame).

*The Producers
I saw the original cast of this show in NYC and I was originally put off by going to see Richard Dreyfuss in the lead, but when I found out Nathan Lane was taking over I immediately told my friend Hector to buy me a ticket when he went. Lane was superb as always, even though the rest of the cast could not compete with my very fond memories of the Broadway cast. STILL... this is an absolutely fabulous night at the theatre, it's wildly funny and the tunes are ok. It's definitely a Master Class in old-fashioned musical theatre comedy. Don't miss it!

*Festen
This is a stage adaptation (non-musical) of a Danish film I regretted missing back when I was in Uni. I was intrigued by the "family reunion that brings out old secrets" premise, so I went. It's actually a good show, the staging is quite interesting (there's this part when three scenes are going on at once! and you get all the information! wow!) even if you never really become too involved in the drama and never really care too much about the characters (I guess Danes are as cold and as distant as they say, even in theatrical adaptation, hehe). It's "OK". Not brilliant or particularly memorable, but "OK". Definitely one to get at TKTS. Not worth full price.

*Buried Child
I was even MORE intrigued by this Pulitzer Prize winning Sam Shepard tragicomedy about a particularly nasty Midwestern American family. To be completely honest, I really didn't like this show. I can't really say it was the performances, they seemed pretty good (it featured the redheaded girl from "Six feet under") it's just really not my kind of show. It's extremely dark (I'm talking pitch-black) comedy mixed in with neo-absurdist touches. Many things go unexplained and are just there... probably for your contemplation. I was sort of expecting a more traditional comedy so I was somewhat put off by such abstract and avant-garde playwriting. The ending is quite shocking and memorable, but as a whole it just didn't do it for me. It's not for everyone, so be warned...

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