What can I say? A fabulous night out, just fabulous! We were lucky enough to grab the last two seats for the show and, even though they were at opposite sides of the auditorium and "restricted view" it was well worth the 6 hour round trip to see this show which closes tonight (5th Nov) but which will re-appear at the Adelphi in London next March.
I have a great fondness for this show having been in the Chrisopher Bond play myself in the past. It is a sad, dark tale with no winners, everyone loses something, if not everything, though the journey is not without its lighter moments ;-)
Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton are just fabulous as Todd and Lovett. The last time I saw Michael he was playing Edna Turnblad in the touring Hairspray and you could harldy find a more different character! Indeed, I barely recognised Michael as his slimmer, darker, huskier self but was utterley convinced by his portrayal of the good man turned bad who is Benjamin Barker. Imelda provides us with a nhugely honest (and humorous) portrayal of the chancer Lovett as she gets that glint in her eye seeing all the free meat on offer - thoroughly enjoyable.
The pairing of John Bowe as Judge Turpion and Peter Polucarpou as the Beadle was beautiful - both parts were played with utter conviction and they interacted so well. The Judge is a terrific and complex part to play and this was as good as it gets. Anthony (Luke Brady) and Johanna (Lucy May Barker) have the unenviable task of playing the "love interest", not the best parts in the show but carried off with suitable breathlessness. Pirelli (Robert Burt) was a delight and he, of course, gets the first blooding which this production does not avoid, there is blood and plenty of it, no representational deaths here!
Perhaps the saddest characters of all are Tobias (James McConville) and the Beggar Woman (Gillian Kirkpatrick) both of whom did exceptionally well with Tobias decent from innocence to understanding to madness particularly moving. For the rest, well, there were no weak lionks on this stage, this was a hugely powerful and engaging production that I thoroughly enjoyed. The staging was "bleak London of indeterminate period" which worked well, I love the stagings done at the CFT as its so hard to see where the theatre ends and the theatricality begins ... the spaces seem to merge perfectly.
I have seen way too many "automatic standing ovations" recently but last night's was trully heartfelt and utterley deserved! When this show comes to London grab a seat, even if you have to slit a throat, or two, to get there ... just avoid any meat pies they might serve in the foyer ;-)