Wyndhams Theatre - West End
Curly is in love with Laurey but she is playing hard to get. He asks her to the Box Social but she has agreed to go with Jud Fry, the hired hand. Meanwhile Will Parker has come back from Kansas City, where he won $50 from the steer roping, to find that his girlfriend Ado Annie also has another admirer - Ali Hakim the Peddler.
Laurey does not know what to do so she buys an “elixir” from Ali Hakim (really smelling salts) in an attempt to make a decision about Curly. At the Box Social, Laurey is confronted by Jud who threatens her and she is comforted by Curley who proposes to her. She happily accepts. Will has also manages to win Ado Annie leaving Ali to go his own way. Jud comes to Curly and Laurey’s wedding and, in a shocking denouement, Curly kills Jud.
The Judge finds that Curly acted in self-defence and the show finishes with Lauren and Curly off on their honeymoon.
Wow! What a different production!
This old favourite has been completely reimagined by Daniel Fish.
I absolutely loved what Daniel Kluger has done with the music. It sounds very country and blue grass and I feel I never want to see the show again unless there is a banjo and accordion in the band!
There were some wonderful performances. I loved James Patrick Davis’s Will Parker! He was charming and fun and ever so slightly dumb and he worked really well with Georgina Onuorah’s powerhouse performance as Ado Annie. Curly was an excellent guitarist and accompanied many of his own songs. I also loved Gertie Cummings. She was much more feisty that I have seen before and that combined with her fantastic laugh made for a brilliant character.
The production had a darkness and brutality that is missing from any traditional revival of this show and I think there will be some mixed reactions from Rodgers and Hammerstein fans. For me, the production didn’t entirely work. But knowing the show so well, I may have a different perspective.
The first act to me, felt slightly like a combination of a staged concert and a table read, although that setting didn’t take away from the power of some of the scenes. Which I want to express were excellent. I am afraid the end of the show really didn’t work for me also. It was very traumatic and grated, with the cast costumes splatted in blood, suddenly singing cheerful and upbeat tunes of People Will Say We’re in Love and Oklahoma!
I I must admit though, that none of these would have bothered me so much if I didn’t know the original show as well as I do, and I just wonder if there were others like me in the audience.
I thoroughly enjoyed this different take on such a classic show and I would highly recommend anyone to see it and make your own judgement. Please. It really was impressive. Love it or hate it you will have a most stimulating of evenings!
4 out of 5
Reviewer - Julia Rufey.