Thursday, 1 March 2018

REVIEW: Pippin at the Southwark Playhouse

Pippin, written by WICKED composer Stephen Schwartz, originally ran on Broadway in 1972 with later revivals in 2013 with Patina Miller and most recently in London in 2011 at the Menier Chocolate Factory. In August 2017 the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester staged a new production of the show which has transferred to London’s Southwark Playhouse and runs until the 24th March. 

The story is more relevant than ever, in a time where the people are standing up to their leaders this becomes very poignant in the production. With the recent student protests in America about gun laws, when the characters stand up to their dictator we suddenly realise the harsh reality of how we must control our world for the next generation. 

The great thing about this this production in particular is that everyone can take something different away from the show, the messages mean different things to different people. What Jonathan O’Boyle does with this production is very special, it’s not throwing any kind of concept or ideas into your face, it allows you to really make up your own mind on what’s going on.

The casting for this show is beyond perfection; Genevieve Nicole is an absolute star. Her stage craft and presence lead to a breath-taking performance with killer vocals and a characterisation that was sexy and terrifying at the same time. It’s hard to take your eyes off of her and she leads this cast with confidence and star quality. 

Jonathan Carlton plays the title role in the show, playing a role in which, every male musical theatre performer has at one point sang the songs for can be hard to live up to, but he is completely in his element and allows you to forget every version of the famous numbers you’ve heard because he makes it his own. Stunning vocals and a really charming performance, keep your eyes on this one. 

The concept of this show was really interesting, having an ensemble of actors of similar ages playing all the roles around Pippin could have flopped but instead was pure genius, thanks to the incredibly talented cast. 

Mairi Barclay stuns audiences in her role as Fastrada and Berthe, her comic timing was on point and had the audience in stitches. You accepted that she could play a grandma and a mother within minutes because of her brave choices and this one is a performer I’m excited to see what she does next. 

Bradley Judge and Tessa Kadler gave both comic and heart-warming
performances as Pippins step brother Lewis and the poor single mother Catherine. Bradley has a presence and stage craft of someone beyond his years and Tessa has a voice I could listen to all day. 

The rest of the ensemble is made up of Rhidian Marc (Charles), Michelle Andrews, Scott Hayward, Ellie Seaton and Andrew Halliday. All contribute so much to this fantastic performance and really are the back bone to this production. 

I could go on for pages about each and every single cast member and the brilliance they all contribute to the production, if you want to see casting perfection then you must see this show. The production as a whole is brilliant and exciting but the strength really is in the fantastic performance this ensemble of actors gave. 

A mention must be given to Aaron J. Dootson’s lighting design that was stunning and made this small space feel like a completely different world and Maeve Black for her innovative and beautiful set design. 

It’s very rare to see a show where every aspect impresses and stuns but this does exactly that. Also, a beautiful dedication to Olivia Faulkner. A production she would be incredibly proud of. 

This is quite a short run, hopefully this show has another life at some point in the future. 

Pure theatrical genius with a flawless cast who are clearly invested and passionate about what they ate showcasing on stage. The hottest ticket of 2018 so far.

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★★
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