Thursday, 7 March 2019

REVIEW: Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre


After a hugely successful run on Broadway, Waitress finally has made its way into the West End. As one of the most anticipated shows of 2019, unfortunately this show doesn't live up to the hype and is at the bottom of the list of shows opening this year. 

The story follows Jenna, a waitress in a diner who bakes the most incredible pies. Her creativity and life is poured into the creation of these recipes and we see her express her problems through the baking of these pies. She falls pregnant with her abusive husband’s baby and ends up having an affair with her Doctor, Uh-Oh! Her two colleagues and friends, Becky and Dawn, Help her through this and end up with their own relationship stories. 

Sara Bareilles has written the score for the show and its beautiful, the music is perfect for the genre and tells the story with a wonderful intelligence and grace. Unfortunately the flaws in the show come from the Book by Jessie Nelson; the plot has huge holes in and so much of it just doesn't makes sense.

The characters of Becky and Dawn felt half written, their stories could have been cut and made no difference to the final piece. For a start, they instantly knew Jenna was pregnant even though they say “We didn’t think you slept with your husband anymore”. It doesn't make sense and added nothing but confusion to the story. 

Marisha Wallace and Laura Baldwin gave brilliant performances however; Marisha plays Becky and her comic timing was on point and she provided power house vocals in her solo number in act 2. You couldn’t help but fall in love with Laura as Dawn, she sounded wonderful and had a geeky charm about her. Despite the girls incredible talents, they were let down by the writing of the roles, neither was very well rounded and there was a lot of strings left untied. We don’t know enough about Beckys husband even though he’s spoken about all the time and nothing is explained as to why Dawn wants to find a boyfriend even though she expresses all the reasons why she doesn’t want one. 

The Doctor, played by David Hunter, is written in a way that makes you fall in
love with him. Brilliantly played by Mr Hunter, he comes across as slightly awkward but adorable with a vocal tone that was just perfect for this role. However when we find out he has a wife, the writing still leads to you believe he is a good person. Nothing about his marriage is explained other than his wife is a lovely lady and Jenna just forgives him and leaves it in a positive way. Although I admire how this storyline goes, there's so much missing from this and its frustrating from an audience point of view because there's things that have been completely missed by the writer. 

Dawns love interest Ogie, is played by Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock fame. Although his character and acting is 100% right for this role, his vocals were 100% wrong. The majority of his part involved a big musical number in which he was incapable of singing it. 

Katherine McPhee stars in the show as Jenna, although her voice is beautiful and is perfect for the score her acting falls flat. She has restrictions that means that she is unable to portray the emotions required in this role. 

The movement and choreography felt slightly out of place in this production, in such a naturalistic story and set the elements of the movement were very abstract and this wasn’t justified in the choices within the direction. 

This show features a pretty score sung and performed wonderfully by the cast, but the writing really lets this production down. In a time where we have some incredible and exciting things happening in the West End, Waitress may fall slightly flat in the mix. 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★

Seat: F12 | Price of Ticket: £72.50
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