Star rating – 5/10
I really wanted to like this Trevor Nunn revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber 1989 musical, partly because I want to be positive about a Mernier production following their disastrous previous production of ‘Paradise Found’ this summer (see review from June for the ghastly details); and partly because I don’t want to annoy the armies of ALW fans in cyberspace any more than I have done recently (see my review of ‘Love Never Dies’ earlier this month and subsequent post rage). But I can’t say that it was fantastic sadly, mainly due to the lack of a credible storyline.
The music is lovely, ALW at his best, including the smash hit ‘Love changes everything’ which features at the start and throughout the production. And the singing and performances are themselves very good. Young student Alex (Michael Arden) falls in love with actress Rose (Katherine Kingsley) as he travels across France. He takes her to his uncle’s holiday bolt hole but she ends up falling in love with Uncle George instead. George himself is romantically entangled with an Italian sculpture, Giulietta, who herself is also very partial to Rose. Are you still with me? The story hurtles through the subsequent years to where Rose and George’s daughter herself falls an attachment to Alex, whom Rose has not quite given up.
This tangled web of relationships, while complex, does not particularly surprise, as each development is so heavily signposted that the feel is more of cliché than climax. Katherine Kingsley is outstanding as Rose, and the cast are clearly talented. But in the end, the story line just does not carry the tunes, which for a musical is a fairly basic flaw. So for me the outstandingly talented ALW is just miles better when he is retelling stories such as in Evita, Joseph, or Jesus Christ Superstar, than when he is creating a story line for himself.