Review: Blondel, Union

“I’m a fool…just a fool”

There’s something admirable in the Union Theatre’s admirable determination to work its way through the dustier, neglected end of the musical theatre canon to see if anything comes up roses. I liked what they did with Anyone Can Whistle, less so with Moby Dick, and now its the turn of the lesser-known Tim Rice musical Blondel (the first he wrote after his Andrew Lloyd Webber collaborations) to get the revival treatment.

Sometimes though, when polishing a pebble in the hope that it turns into a diamond in the rough, it remains a pebble. Sasha Regan’s high-spirited, fun-loving production has a wonderfully playful energy about it, and the cast are clearly having a whale of a time, but it isn’t too hard to see why the show has rather languished in obscurity. Daftness can only take you so far (believe me, I know!) and Blondel (over-)runs at 2 hours 30 minutes. Continue reading “Review: Blondel, Union”

Review: Catch Me, Above the Arts

“We’re all hurting”

The traditional image of musical theatre as clap-happy tap-dancing extravaganzas is one that still persists, even whilst musicals about living with cancer play at the National Theatre. And it is something that clearly occupies writers Arnoud Breitbarth and Christian Czornyj, as their introduction in the programme for their new show Catch Me tackles this issue head on. 

For Catch Me is a musical based around male suicide, the mental health struggles that lead people to such an act and the repercussions it has on those left behind. And pleasingly, Breitbarth and Czornyj show a strong understanding of the musical form and its storytelling potential. Here, songs tumble out of the characters, depicting their mental state, an organic extension of the story that really works, especially in the stronger first half. Continue reading “Review: Catch Me, Above the Arts”