Tag Archives: Bunny Christie

Company – 5 Stars



Gielgud Theatre

Reviewed – 17th October 2018


“the beauty of this musical (a real showcase of some of Sondheim’s finest numbers) is that the songs do not eclipse the characters”


A lot has been made of the gender swapping element of Marianne Elliott’s ground breaking production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”. By his own admission, Sondheim was initially unsure that he wanted it to happen. His reservations were understandable: all too often you see theatre where the protagonist has been made female and it doesn’t always work. It is to Elliott’s credit that he was persuaded to allow it (such was Sondheim’s faith in her) and the result is a brilliantly up to date reimagining of the work.

It seems that few alterations have been made to George Furth’s book. There are the obvious pronoun substitutions and lyrical changes, yet it is a seamless transformation – it is easy to forget that this version isn’t how it was originally written. Although it is radical, it doesn’t feel it. It feels natural and poignantly relevant, which is the ultimate compliment. Leave any preconceptions and debate at the door and just revel in the astonishing gorgeousness of this production.

In the absence of any real plot it relies on the sharp dialogue and characterisation and, of course, Sondheim’s inimitable score. Each song is a vignette – a stand-alone moment, but wedded to the narrative and given a sparkle of confetti by Bunny Christie’s ingenious ‘Alice in Wonderland’ design.

Rosalie Craig plays Bobbie, the single, independent woman, as a bewildered onlooker; surveying the inexplicable bargaining, bickering, compromises, trade-offs, understandings and misunderstandings of her friends’ marriages. She perfectly treads the path from amused derision through to a longing to be part of this weird world of wedded ‘bliss’. The dichotomy is heightened coming from the perspective of a woman aware of her biological clock ticking away on her thirty-fifth birthday. There is a spellbinding routine where Liam Steel’s choreography has four identically dressed versions of Bobbie appear to her in a dream as spirits of her future self; stuck in a clockwork loop of morose matrimony and motherhood. Craig gives a performance that will surely make her a West End fixture for quite some time.

But she is in good company. It is a show full of star turns. Jonathan Bailey showers the audience with the impossibly quick-fire lyrics of “Getting Married Today” with the lung capacity of a free-diver. George Blagden, Richard Fleeshman and Matthew Seadon-Young, as Bobbie’s three potential boyfriends offer a gloriously fresh take on “You Could Drive a Person Crazy”. Patti Lupone’s “The Ladies Who Lunch” is an unforgettable cry of self-deprecatory discontent. But the beauty of this musical (a real showcase of some of Sondheim’s finest numbers) is that the songs do not eclipse the characters. Mel Giedroyc and Gavin Spokes as the abstemious argumentative couple in denial, Daisy Maywood and Ashley Campbell as the happily divorced couple, Jennifer Saayeng and Richard Henders as the doped-up, straight-laced couple are all hilarious yet touching (my word count is cautioning me to be self-editing here). The entire piece comes with an immense sense of fun, without losing any of the emotive power. Craig’s solos; “Someone Is Waiting”, “Marry Me a Little” and, of course “Being Alive”, are achingly pure and heartfelt.

The friends that surround Bobbie repeatedly urge her to find somebody who will take care of her. “But who will I take of?” she responds. I think it’s safe to say that the success of this show is well and truly taken care of. I hope nothing is booked into the Gielgud Theatre for the foreseeable future.

Craig’s Bobbie bookends many of the scenes with the simple, singular word ‘Wow’. I left the theatre with the same word resounding in my head. Sondheim’s musical and Elliott’s production is a perfect match.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Brinkhoff Mogenburg



Gielgud Theatre until 30th March


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Julius Caesar – 5 Stars


Julius Caesar

The Bridge Theatre

Reviewed – 30th January 2018


“This production is exciting beyond compare; chilling and entertaining in equal measure”


Never has Shakespeare been told with such clarity and disquieting immediacy. An onslaught from start to finish, it begins at a pop-up, raucous rock gig – a scratch band rallying the mob in the pit. This is the first of many pointers as to why the text is still so relevant today. The crowd are cajoled into cheering for Caesar, without knowing why or what he stands for. It is the story of mass emotions and how easily this can rise to civil war. We are shown, in Nicholas Hytner’s spell-binding production, some disastrous home truths about the nature of men and politics: “Julius Caesar” is a timeless mirror in which the present age can see itself.

Hytner’s decision to play it two hours straight through is inspired and adds to the immediacy. Configured in the round, Bunny Christie’s ingenious set rises up from the ground in differing configurations, forcing the crowd to sway with the tide and be bustled into all corners of the space. You can, of course, choose to sit if you wish, but the experience is amplified, both literally and figuratively, by being among the populace on the ground. When Caesar is assassinated we are forced to crouch to the ground by the gun-wielding conspirators. David Calder’s charisma as Caesar prevents us from saluting this slaughter, though his spot-on portrayal of a man too confident of his own power adds diffidence to our reaction.

Ben Whishaw is a revelation as a twitchy, studious Brutus, unsure of himself yet in command. At close range his facial tics and darting eyes convey his uncertainty in his own reasoning. Everything boils down to terminology, and we almost go along with him when he states that “we shall be called purgers, not murderers”, a hauntingly dangerous and resonant frame of mind to be duped into in today’s world.

Opposite Whishaw, Michelle Fairley’s portrayal of Cassius is impassioned and calculating, but does she ever truly get Brutus on her side? The sheer chemistry between the two comes into the open, particularly in the later scenes as they furiously quarrel then make up.

While the conspirators falter, Mark Anthony sets the seal on their destruction. David Morrissey captures, with diabolical precision, his ability to play the emotions of the crowd. His depiction, along with the entire cast, grips the audience and unflinchingly reminds us that political unrest is a beast that cannot, and must not, be ignored. This production is exciting beyond compare; chilling and entertaining in equal measure. And with the aid of Paul Arditti’s sound design and Bruno Poet’s lighting, it resembles at times a filmic, stylish thriller.

It is an absolute must see. Unfloundering to the end, the last line belongs to Octavius, and recent RADA graduate Kit Young’s (a talent to watch out for) manic smile of jubilation is a sore reminder that history is still on its inevitable and tragic cycle of repeating itself. “How many ages hence, Shall this our lofty scene be acted over, In states unborn and accents yet unknown!”


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Manuel Harlan


Julius Caesar

The Bridge Theatre until 15th April



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