"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Productions at the Primmer Theatre, Great Baddow
premier production and a fond farewell, this truly unique evening was
an outstanding example of ambition, talent and professionalism.
funds for a place at the Music Theatre Academy, Sam Toland had
assembled a remarkable company of outstanding singers. The piece he
chose was not an easy option – adapted from a controversial play,
exploring topics taboo back in the 19th century and still
edgy today. With a demanding rock score, involving a range of styles
and lots of hand-held microphones.
took some time for me to be won over to this radical approach –
almost a travesty of the original Wedekind, I felt, with the period
costumes and the in-your-face lyrics and brash music uneasy
bedfellows. Could this unsubtle version hope to capture the power and
the passion of this seminal play ?
performers coped manfully with the clunky American reworking of the
text, but it was the music, the natural idiom for most of these
youngsters, that carried the emotional charge of the evening. MD Kris
Rawlinson achieved some superb performances – from his band
[including an excellent string section] and from the acting company.
The choreography [Dominique Hammond]was often boldly imaginative.
Walker was unforgettable as the tragic Wendla, innocent and
ill-prepared for the stirrings of adolescent sexuality, with Toland
as her free-thinking Melchior, and Bart Lambert as his intense,
angst-ridden friend. Their graveside trio was one of the strongest
pieces of music theatre I've seen this year.
many other memorable interpretations: Laura Messin as Anna, Alice
Masters as the bohemian Ilse, and Jess Moore as the abused Martha. A
moving alternative awakening saw Ben Huish's Ernst, who dreamed of
being a country pastor, duetting with Josh Butcher's Hanschen, though
it might have been better to resist the easy laugh. Alex Hilton and
Laura Bradley worked hard as all of the adults in this unhappy story.
this was very much a company performance, with numbers like Totally
Fucked and the moving, emotionally charged Purple Summer finale
making a strong, lasting impact.