Tuesday, 1 October 2019

REVIEW: Brooklyn at the Greenwich Theatre

Brooklyn follows the story of a group of street performers who come together to play out stories to try and earn an honest wage. In Brooklyn, this play within a play, tells the story of a young orphan singer who uses her talents to hunt down her father. 

This story is really poignant is many ways right now; politically it focuses on the greed for money and power whilst being told by people who are begging for money on the street, which is pretty ironic. And for those of us in the performing arts industry, its an interesting reflection on how we use our talents and what our worth is as performers. It also highlights our need to tell stories, with funding cuts and performing subjects being undermined its an important message about how we as humans need stories like this for so many varied reasons. 

This musical has discovered two stars; Andrew Patrick-Walker (Street Singer) and Emily-Mae (Paradice) both stand out in this show as incredible talents. Patrick-Walker has an insane voice, amongst a cast of incredible talents his voice is especially unique and he has a natural charisma on stage, which works for the part of the Street Singer who acts as the narrator of the story. Emily-Mae has the most powerful voice and in the role of Paradice, demands everyone's attention and brings a bunch of attitude but also has some really tender moments. A brilliant actress and an outstanding vocalist.

Hiba Elchikhe is a very natural Brooklyn, bringing more of an innocent and intimate version of the character. Although her acting may not have been at the same level of her colleagues, her voice is faultless and to see someone sing that score with, what looks like, no effort at all is hugely impressive. 

As Taylor Collins, John Addison really comes into his own in the second act. His characters plot thickens in the second half and he plays it so well. His voice stood out from the rest of the cast because its slightly more of a musical theatre sound but still blends with this ensemble so well, his voice also has a really powerful sound which is incredibly impressive. 

Sabrina Aloueche really brings some nice, tender moments to the show as Faith. Although her part may be very small, the moments she does have bring a different feel to the show and she lets it happen so naturally, and with a beautiful voice. 

The direction of this piece is very simple, not complicated in anyway but its so effective and clean. We’re allowed to enter this world and very welcomely, however we’re instantly pulled out when the actors come out of character to count the money left for them, share it out between them or asking around for more from their audience. Its a really interesting range of emotions that is shared. We’re in awe of the vocals on stage, then lost in the modern fairytale story but then also reminded of the harsh reality of these storytellers. A credit to Adam Haigh, the director, who balances out all of these things and creates a really interesting piece that gives every single audience remember something different to take away. 

The Greenwich Theatre is also the perfect setting for this, a large house but equally as intimate and a set by Justin Williams who helps Haigh enhance the storytelling with levels and interesting details. A small thing to look out for, Andrew Patrick-Walker’s interesting and beautiful artwork in Emily-Maes rendition of Raven. A lovely touch and celebration of this casts talents. 

My problem with the piece is some of the writing, the story lacks any smooth transitions and somethings happen too fast with no explanation. The score, however good, needs some more variety. It has some of the best songs in musical theatre in but some more varied content would be beneficial to the story. 

Although there are problems within the piece, this is a very good production of it. Filled with intelligent devises and staging with an incredible cast made up of some of the best that the theatre industry has to offer. For a night of golden vocals and the chance to see this interesting piece, make your way to the Greenwich Theatre. 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★ 

Seat: K15 | Price of Ticket: £28.50
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