Monday to Friday until 22nd July
‘The past is a different country: they do things differently
there’ is the famous opening line of The
Based on the 1953 novel by LP Hartley, The Go Between is a
coming-of age story centred in Norfolk on the brink of the First World War and now adapted into a stage musical.
see an elderly Leo (Michael Crawford) in his attic recalling, for what you feel
may be the first time, the events which occurred the summer of his 13th
birthday when he spent the holidays with his friend Marcus and his aristocratic
family. With Marcus’ beautiful sister set to marry for money, the presence of
the dashing young farmer spells disaster for upper class tranquillity.
The singing is generally of excellent quality, and Richard
Taylor’s score lends itself well to the play’s haunting subject matter. Gemma
Sutton is particularly impressive – her utterly charming
yet fundamentally self-interested Marion was complemented well by her clear and
It is, of course a delight to see the great Michael Crawford
back on the West End stage after so long an absence and, whilst his voice may
no longer reach the dizzying heights of his Phantom of the Opera heyday, his
presence is undeniable, particularly in the quieter moments of interaction with
his younger self.
Quietly stealing the show, however, is musical director and
pianist Nigel Lilley. The sole instrumentalist in this chamber-musical, he
succeeds in overseeing proceedings from his vantage point behind the
grand piano ,which is a constant presence at stage right, with grace and
Designer Michael Pavelka’s staging is beautiful in its
simplicity, making good use of the assembled chairs and even of the
ever-present piano. The scene in the tailor’s shop with its inventive use of
coat hangers was particularly charming. The earthy tones of the scenery are
matched in the costume to very stylish effect.
Ultimately though, The
Go Between never quite gets into its stride. At times, the libretto feels a
little forced – whist we envy no-one the challenge of following a film script
penned by Harold Pinter, it did feel that some metaphors were pushed rather
beyond breaking point.
There are moments, especially in the second half, where the
tension is palpable, but the eternal presence of the elderly Leo, rooting the
entire Norfolk plot line firmly in the realms of memory, somewhat lowers the stakes – it is hard for
an audience to directly invest in action that we are constantly being reminded
took place a generation ago.
This is undoubtedly an immensely elegant production but, despite repeated allusions to Icarus and his ill-fated flight, it never quite manages to soar.
|What||The Go-Between musical review|
|Where||Apollo Theatre, 31 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
27 May 16 – 15 Oct 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via Culture Whisper and See Tickets|