The Simon & Garfunkel Story
Reviewed – 29th April 2019
“the musicianship is excellent, and it’s quite a phenomenal showcase of ability”
It’s been fifty years since Simon and Garfunkel were hitting the charts, but it seems their popularity has yet to wane, as can be seen with the ongoing demand for ‘The Simon and Garfunkel Story’. Even after a sizeable run in London last year and a world tour following that, still, two months in to another season in London, a giddy full-house eagerly awaits.
New stars of the show, Adam Dickinson (Paul Simon) and Kingsley Judd (Art Garfunkel) open with a perfect rendition of ‘The Sound of Silence’. They share a fair likeness with their characters, and their silvery vocals harmonise beautifully so that if you closed your eyes you might just be fooled.
However, as soon as the first track finishes, we’re greeted with two very English accents, and a story told in the third person. It makes you wonder why they bothered with the costumes if suspension of disbelief was only going to come to a screeching halt five minutes in.
It’s a strange combination of production choices – Dickinson and Judd do at least sing with American accents, and both have appeared to study the mannerisms of their characters’ musical performances but as soon as each song is finished, they’re back to being two English lads. There’s no set besides a projector screen, and the ‘story’ is mostly made up of geographical locations of both singers and the chronology of the music, told in cheesy gobbets between numbers.
The costumes change according to the era (Everly Brothers-style shirts and black ties are swapped for seventies polo necks, and then eighties blazers and t-shirts) but the effect is so minimal they may as well not have bothered – particularly as the rest of the band remain in their shirts and ties throughout.
That being said, the musicianship is excellent, and it’s quite a phenomenal showcase of ability. More than that, it’s a pleasure to see how much they’re enjoying the performance – the drummer (Mat Swales) sweetly mouths the words of nearly every song, and the bassist (Leon Camfield) emanates a contagious enthusiasm.
It’s clear that vocal ability and aesthetic were the reigning considerations in casting Kingsley Judd: his manner of addressing the audience is overly sentimental, as though talking to an audience of senile geriatrics, and his performance is uncomfortable to watch. Dickinson, making his professional debut, seems much more at home as a front man, though he does have the advantage of having a guitar to hide behind, where Judd is left desperately trying to work out what to do with his hands – there’s only so many times you can meaningfully grab the mic stand.
Of course it’s entertaining listening to brilliant musicians performing huge hits, but it’s not a theatre production. The set-up is that of a gig (minus a dancefloor), and there’s little to no acting required or story told.
Reviewed by Miriam Sallon
Photography by Hamish Gill
The Simon & Garfunkel Story
Lyric Theatre – Monday 20th May & Monday 24th June
Previously reviewed at this venue: