(When the backlog gets big, the RZ gets to the point.)
No, the RZ hasn't made a journey to see the critically-slammed megamusical currently running on Broadway. This OTHER version of the classic novel, running at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, is the brainchild of David Pomeranz (score), Steven David Horwich (Book/Lyrics) and David “I wrote the part of Time everybody hated” Soames (Book) manages to do what the big bad Broadway edition couldn’t: condense Dickens’s epic into a svelte 2:40 (with interval) without sacrificing characterisation or major events in the plot.
Director and co-producer Paul Nicholas has brought together an excellent and experienced cast (no fresh faced pre-drama schoolers here like the upcoming cast of Spring Awakening), and in this case things do get better with age: they sell the show marvellously. While the occasionally clunky line shows up in the text, it doesn’t get in the way, and Pomeranz has supplied a chamber score much like that of Marguerite’s: pretty but same-y and ultimately unmemorable, reproduced here on two pianos. Sound tech (no sound designer is credited) Andy Evans has gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide a wonderful mix which, given the large cast and small space, is no easy task. Mike Lee’s costumes are lovely to stare at and his set design is clean and simple.
Sometimes smaller is better, and this intimate production is worth checking out. The RZ would not be surprised were it to have a lovely future ahead. There’s a gem of a show here, and with some polishing it can become brilliant.
Where: Upstairs at the Gatehouse
When: Until 2 Nov. Tu-Sa @ 19:30, Su @ 16:00
How Much: £12/£15 (All but Sat/Sat). Unreserved seating.
RZ Unofficial “Worth Paying”: £12. Lush costume drama, big cast, and not boring.
RZ Other Notes: Those close to the RZ will appreciate the difficulty he had in actually reviewing this production at all. Not that getting to the show was hard or that he had massive laziness to overcome, but there are other “issues” which made it a bit of a sticky subject.