Thursday, 20 November 2008

THOUGHTS: “Imagine This”

(Second post today - the current tour of Noises Off is covered below - and post #150 overall. I even managed to turn in a job application as well!)

I have a proper byline for reviewing this show, so just a quick opinion here as every other critic has weighed in.

I liked Imagine This even though I really didn’t want to going in. I thought the music was beautiful and epic (I can forgive musical anachronism and the people complaining about it seem to forget about Wildhorn, Boubil & Schonberg, etc.), the cast great, and the design stunning. I didn’t think it was perfect, however: the book has issues with tonal consistency, the jokes a bit too simplistic, and the inclusion of a particularly camp character (the term “flaming” would be the un-PC way to put it) struck me as one suspension of disbelief too far given the presented company’s religious leanings. Likewise I had an issue with the idealisation of martyrdom in the renewed age of religious terrorism but I appear to have been the only person writing about the show to do so.

While much of the show has been overhauled since its out of town run in Plymouth, I can’t help but think that Imagine This would have benefited greatly from a second out of town tryout to ensure structural integrity before fine tuning in the West End: the makings of greatness are there but it still needs further refinement should the producers decide to try again elsewhere.

It’s also telling (though I’m still not 100% sure what) that I enjoyed myself and my companion for the evening - someone even more jaded than I am and a good 20 years older - loved it, as did even the West End Whingers, but the official critics did not. Word of mouth is split on this one between an “I liked it and recommend it but didn’t OMGWOW” faction and a “This is utter shite and even Paris Hilton: The Jukebox Musical would be better” group. I’m in the former, and officially consider Imagine This to be a show that patrons will have to judge for themselves.

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