This show was also in the sauna which Plague was given, but somehow I didn’t mind so much here. I’ve never seen this musical before, so I can’t comment on the cutting of the script to make it fit into its late night slot, other than to say that the show didn’t feel as if it had been gutted or made no sense. The show isn’t the most uplifting thing you’ve ever seen, but if you like musical theatre then it’s a cracker nevertheless, and if you’re just there for the acting, then it’s pretty moving. Molina was brilliantly acted, XXXX less so (not really his fault, he just wasn’t great casting for the role, and didn’t really come across as rugged enough to be a revolutionary), making their relationship slightly less believable than it might have been – a shame for a show that hangs on these two actors quite so heavily.
Elsewhere, the “spider woman” had a strong voice and some strong songs to go with it, sadly undermined by a faulty radio mic on the night I saw the show (on that note, the taping of mic capsules to the faces of the actors was some of the messiest and most obvious I have seen in some time). The live band across the back of the stage left a reduced area for the actors, but were a worthwhile use of resources nonetheless, with no obviously weak playing going on, and a big energy boost to the show from their presence. The reduced stage was well dealt with by the cleverly versatile set, making the most of the limitations dealt to it (both by the lack of depth to the stage and by the obviously small budget).
The chorus of the show were generally pretty flawless, with all the supporting character parts well acted without upstaging the lead actors. That said, the chorus numbers with the prisoners singing about “over the wall” made me and my friends really want to see the show done in a big theatre with a chorus of more than six and a big, well lit set (lighting was the other technical problem with this show, often seemingly being plotted on the fly, despite being several nights into the run when I saw it).