Tag Archives: Daniel Boys



The Other Palace



The Other Palace

Reviewed – 5th September 2019



“The strong performances cannot mask the fact that Falsettos feels disparate, and as though it’s lacking a voice”


Falsettos opens with Four Jews in a Room Bitching. Or that’s the name of the opening number, anyway. It’d be difficult to tell otherwise, since it’s not especially clear where they are, or why they’re there. And they don’t even appear to be doing much bitching. Although this musical’s no stranger to it, as anyone who’s been on Twitter in the past few weeks will know that it’s been mired in controversy for its lack of Jewish representation in a story that allegedly pivots around Judaism. That certainly didn’t seem to be the focal point of this production, however, but then it’s also difficult to say what was.

Originally conceived as a trilogy of one-act musicals by William Finn and James Lapine, Falsettos is a conglomeration of In Trousers, March of the Falsettos, and Falsettoland. It centres on Marvin (Daniel Boys), a man trying to maintain his relationship with his ex-wife Trina (Laura Pitt-Pulford) and son Jason (Albert Atack in this performance) after having come out as gay and left them for his boyfriend Whizzer (Oliver Savile). Things take a further complication when Marvin’s shrink Mendel (Joel Montague) becomes romantically involved with Trina, as the show reflects on the wealth of different loves one can experience, and the non-conventional forms it can blossom in.

While its depiction of homosexuality and non-traditional families may have been controversial in the ’80s when March of the Falsettos debuted, the messy story leaves it feeling lacking in substance in today’s (slightly) more accepting climate. It’s hugely noticeable that Falsettos is three musicals stitched together, as characters leap from moment to moment in their arcs without any time being allowed to let these changes develop organically, or for them to settle effectively. The love between Mendel and Trina, for example, feels unearned when most of the buildup is Mendel lecherously fantasising about her during his meetings with Marvin. Finn’s music, too, robs a number of scenes of their emotional heft as nigh-on every song takes on a quirky, light-hearted tone – the impact of darker elements such as domestic violence and terminal illness is completely undermined when underscored by major chords.

However, in a number of moments, the levity of the music, as well as its enjoyably unpredictable use of tempo and key changes, is utilised excellently in numbers such as The Baseball Game, and Pitt-Pulford delivers the stand-out performance in I’m Breaking Down. Boys has superb comic timing, and the mesh of the company’s voices is truly beautiful, although two of them – lesbian couple Cordelia (Natasha J Barnes) and Charlotte (Gemma Knight-Jones) – don’t appear at all until the second act – another sign of the unpolished unification of separate pieces.

The strong performances cannot mask the fact that Falsettos feels disparate, and as though it’s lacking a voice. The chessboard set from PJ McEvoy is superfluous, trying to force a metaphor that simply isn’t in the text, and Tara Overfield-Wilkinson’s direction favours chasing laughs over emotional honesty. Whether these issues stem from the absence of Jewish voices in the rehearsal room, or are just an overall problem with the production will no doubt be the subject of further Twitter debates – either way, Falsettos is missing the specificity that lets it truly land.


Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by The Standout Company



The Other Palace until 23rd November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Eugenius! | ★★★★ | February 2018
Suicide | ★★★½ | May 2018
Bromance: The Dudesical | ★★★★ | October 2018
Murder for Two | ★★★★ | December 2018
The Messiah | ★★★★ | December 2018
Toast | ★★★ | April 2019


Click here to see our most recent reviews


A Spoonful of Sherman

Live at Zedel, Crazy Coqs

Reviewed – 9th August 2017





“… an unashamed nostalgia-fest”



As its title makes clear, the August offering at the Crazy Coqs is an unashamed nostalgia-fest. A Spoonful of Sherman: The Songbook of Your Childhood references that most famous of all dictums from the nation’s favourite nanny, and, as you would expect, sugary treats from Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Book and Bedknobs and Broomsticks are liberally scattered throughout the marathon 39 song programme.

The Shermans truly are a songwriting dynasty, and we are guided through the evening by Robert J. Sherman, who gives us a whistle-stop biographical tour as a punctuation to the music. Robert is a songwriter himself, who clearly takes enormous pride in his extraordinary family history. He is a genial host – a little on the diffident side – and his evident pleasure at sharing the music of his grandfather, and his father and uncle, is charming, as is his obvious delight at hearing the suite of his own songs, which appear towards the end of the evening. This reviewer could have done without the sentimental underscore, and some of the weightier bits of biographical info seemed ill-matched to the occasion, but, in general, this somewhat old-fashioned format suited both the material and the venue.

Cast Sherman

The evening did lack a bit of sparkle however, and this could have been addressed by trimming the programme. Both Helena Blackman and Daniel Boys were in fine voice, but frequently seemed hampered by the lesser material. In addition, Christopher Hamilton, on piano, provided a couple of excellent and much-needed bravura comic cameos, but the zip was then too often lost. I Wanna Be Like You would have been a natural segue from The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers, for example, but instead the pace was brought right down by My Own Home, surely the least inspiring song on The Jungle Book soundtrack. In a similarly odd bit of programming, it seemed deliberately contrary to introduce the wonderful Al Sherman classic, There’s a Harbour of Dreamboats, as a Frank Sinatra favourite, and then give it to Blackman to sing.

These programming peccadilloes are indeed just that, but they do mean that A Spoonful of Sherman remains a perfectly pleasant evening out, rather than being the supercalifragilisticexpialidocius experience it might have been.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Live link




is at Live at Zedel, Crazy Coqs until 20th August



Click here to see a list of the latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com