Paul Johnson | 25 Mar 2013 14:30pm
This was my first experience of both Harlequin and the Lemon Tree Studio Theatre and I must admit to coming away from the evening with favourable impressions of both. Harlequin have a history and ethos of tackling musical theatre that is perhaps less performed and more ‘challenging’ than the run-of-the-mill musical theatre repertoire. This continues as the company tackles Sondheim’s masterful Assassins – a show you have to see rather than listen to! Using a simple and minimalist set in this intimate venue is indeed the correct choice and it enhances the space for the performers to exploit. I did feel, however, that the audience lost at times the lyrical bite that we needed, particularly at the opening of the show where the small and tight-knit musical ensemble under MD Craig McDermott overwhelmed the vocals of the performers. Having said this, the ensemble did tackle the complexities of this Sondheim score very competently indeed. Credit here is no doubt due to the hard work of the company Musical Director. In the role of the Balladeer, Lindsay Cromar exhibited a nice line in Banjo playing as well as the capacity to guide the audience through the set pieces with clarity and lyricism. In these set pieces the nine Assassins work through their own stories leading to their attempts on the lives of US Presidents, some more successful than others. Moray Barber as John Wilkes Booth displayed a lovely vocal tone and range and really came in to his own in his scene with Lee Harvey Oswald played by David Hepburn. Tim Tricker as the suitably deranged Charles Giteau was wonderful to watch as was the scene between Rhonda Scott (Sarah Jane Moore) and Lisa Cameron (Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme). Indeed throughout the evening I was kept hooked on the plot by the characterisation provided by these two actresses. Both displayed some very nice touches and showed a real understanding of their characters. However I have to say that Steven Dale in the role of Samuel Byck (who planned to assassinate Nixon) was utterly mesmerising. Indeed he had a stillness and intensity about his performance (which could easily have become manic) which is unusual to see on amateur theatre. Great credit is due to a fine actor and to what must have been some excellent direction by Director Stuart Mearns. There was some very nice ensemble work during the performance and especially in the Gun Song which fairly crackled along and at the end of the evening in the company reprise of Everybody’s Got The Right, ending with an audience kept still by having nine assassins in a line with guns pointed, a great touch.
- : admin
- : 06/03/2013