Monday, 9 September 2019

REVIEW: Falsettos at The Other Palace

Falsettos premiered on Broadway in 1992 and has since had several well-received Broadway revivals. This is the first time the show has been professionally performed in London. James Lapine’s book began originally as two one-act musicals representing gay liberation: March of the Falsettosand Falsettoland. The combined show tells the tale of a Jewish family in New York in the 1970s; parents Marvin (Daniel Boys), Trina (Laura Pitt-Pulford) and son Jason (George Kennedy) as well as Marvin’s lover, Whizzer (Oliver Savile), whom he has left his wife to be with.

Falsettos is a fully-scored, Sondheim-influenced, sitcom musical that is all about love, jealousy, insecurity and- in Jason’s case- growing up. In the first act, Trina falls in love with Marvin’s psychiatrist and various other family drama occurs. Unfortunately, as there are so many songs (with no relief) in the show, it can tend to merge into one long song as each individual one is less memorable. Pitt-Pulford’s ‘I’m Breaking Down’ was a standout for me in the first part. The second act takes a serious turn as the AIDs crisis of the 1980s hits and Whizzer falls ill. Emotion begins to pour out, the songs become slower and it is truly heart-breaking to watch his deterioration and the way it affects the whole family (as well as the ‘lesbian couple from next door’, who are brilliant).

For the most part, Falsettos was well executed- if a little bland at times. Songs that should have been poignant, including March of the Falsettos, was limp and awkward and needed work. Every member of the cast had impeccable vocals and nailed their characterisation with Tara Overfield-Wlikinson’s direction. Comedic timing was on point making it a very amusing show. George Kennedy lightens the mood of the second part with his stress about planning his Bah Mitzvah.

The musical is set against PJ Mcevoy’s design concept of a collage of static photo frames; living and digitalised. The digitalised frames became screens with split pictures to build the appearance of a room. This would have been more effective had the picture quality been improved. The chequered floor and moveable boxes looked cheap and clunky when used during the show. 

This version of Falsettos caused quite a controversy when fans discovered that not a single member of the cast or crew is in fact Jewish. This makes you question if it is then acceptable for them to be making stereotypical jokes about Jewish people? In general, enjoyable and under-rated. Despite the weak points and the areas that fell flat, I would recommend paying it a visit to experience it.

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★

Seat: E2 | Price of Ticket: £49.50
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