Tag Archives: Mel Giedroyc

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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Much Ado about Nothing – 4 Stars


Much Ado about Nothing

Rose Theatre Kingston

Reviewed – 18th April 2018


“an explosive, enigmatic and enticing night at the theatre”


Almost a triumph, Simon Dormandy’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ proves both accessible and aspirational. The production overflows with clarity as the clearly capable cast generally ignore Shakespeare’s iambs and focus on providing the audience with the opportunity to understand every word. This is no mean feat in a play renowned for its complexity in that so much of its dialogue is reported action, instead of demonstrated drama.

Meanwhile, it is no secret that this production’s appeal for many lies in its starry headline. Mel Giedroyc steps into her first Shakespearean role with confidence and cleverness as her aptitude in making the funny even funnier doesn’t go unnoticed. She never misses an opportunity to reward the audience with a giggle and Beatrice’s scathing wit rolls off her tongue with great naturalism. She does, however, at times appear awkward in her movement; and seems unable to remain still and truthful in some moments of drama. The production relies, for example, on simplicity, stillness and honesty when Claudio outrageously confronts Hero on their wedding day, but Giedroyc’s overacting risks the integrity of such a potentially crushing scene.

John Hopkins shines as Benedick with a hearty, loveable and yet somehow roguish performance and Kate Lamb boldly proves that Hero is not the doormat she is often believed to be. A special mention must be afforded to Calam Lynch’s Claudio. It is Lynch’s theatrical debut and his boyish innocence works in tandem with his steely conviction to illicit a truly astonishing portrayal of a young man desperate to love.

The one let down of the production comes in the form of its anticlimactic finale. As Shakespeare’s final reveal of the alive and well Hero ought to dominate and provide a joyous final scene, the audience remained as unmoved as the characters did. With so little a reaction from those on stage, it seems too much for Dormandy to ask his audience to react at all.

The production handles the comedic moments of this iconic play with intellect and bravery, but generally struggles with the more serious scenes. A bizarre dance in the second wedding scene confuses the audience, but the superb on-stage band delights them throughout. The saving grace for the play lies in its cast. The four lead actors bounce refreshingly off of each other and provide an explosive, enigmatic and enticing night at the theatre.


Reviewed by Sydney Austin

Photography by Mark Douet


Much Ado about Nothing

Rose Theatre Kingston until 6th May



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