Saturday, 24 May 2008

THOUGHTS: The Harder They Come (Transfer)

(Four days after and still no comment on Gone With The Wind revisited...)

Every now and then, the critics have to eat their words. And in this case, the RZ is going to eat his about this show having no chance of going commercial. Taking on a limited run at the Playhouse between now and whenever La Cage finally arrives from the Chocolate Factory, The Harder They Come is back in London and better than ever.

First and foremost, the book’s mess has been mopped up. The RZ approximates 10-15 minutes of obvious material are gone including a song at the beginning and a major spoiler-tastic scene towards the end. Some songs have been trimmed and other scenes clarified. The plot is streamlined, the acts feel more balanced, and it’s just right. The contrast of low budget staging and fancy West End theatre also helps to emphasise the show’s grit, lost to the concrete bunker known as the Barbican.

The music sounds better than ever too, and the cast deliver tight group numbers and some of the best choreography in the West End. The Harder They Come is still driven by its music, and a repeat visit only drove home the strength of the score.

With a (much) smaller stage than the main house at the Barbican, the RZ suspects that the West End transfer is closer to the original and while there’s an added intimacy in the tiny Playhouse, the energy feels lower as well, the side effect of taking a cast from original to transfer to tour to transfer in such a whirlwind. It may pay off to wait a bit before going, just so the cast can clear previews and get some rest.

The question is, does the transfer justify West End prices? Fortunately for punters, the prices are cheaper than most straight plays in the West End, a benefit of subsidised backing. Therefore, the RZ suggests booking ASAP to those who want to escape from the recent bombastic offerings from the old school and fast food fluff from the new.

Where: Playhouse Theatre
When: Until 1 Nov., M-Sa @ 19:30, W & Sa @ 14:30
How Much: £10-£32.50*
Concessions: Check with the BO
RZ Unofficial Worth Paying: £32.50 for getting it right and doing it for less.
RZ Other Notes: Somebody would be very foolish not to make a cast recording or official DVD of this show.

*OK so they offer premium tickets for £50, but you know what? Those aren’t on the proper scale and while they aren’t as stupidly expensive as in the US, the RZ strongly encourages British patrons NOT to support producers in this attempt to sell overpriced tickets.

No comments: