Sunday, November 30, 2008

Imagine This, New London Theatre

Imagine This is a new musical currently playing in New London Theatre. You may think it is mad to launch a new West End show in this climate of economy uncertainty, and you may be right. The theatre, while wasn't empty, wasn't exactly filled to the brink either. In fact even though armed with bargain tickets we managed to bagged seats just six feet from the stage, enough to witness a bit of snorting action by the leading lady.

The musical follows a Jewish theatre group during the early days of the second World War. Set in a Warshaw ghetto, the group continues to produce musicals for the community in order to commit a sense of normality to their now miserable lives. In fact much of Imagine This is sort of musical within a musical. This in my opinion made it tedious. Rather than allowing the characters to grow, by constricting them within their Masada play (a play about the Jewish plight under Roman rule), they came off as rather shallow. Nevertheless Masada served as a brilliant fore shadowing to their present day plight. One of the primary complaints by certain circles of critics was the distasteful humours that are occasionally brought up, despite the predicament the cast finds themselves in. We (and the audience) didn't think so and took the humour as it came as. This is after all an entertainment and should be treated as such.

Production value is great, though no where near Les Miserables level of detail. Rain and snow drops through the broken windows, furnitures are realistic and the set wonderfully designed. Even the stage revolves, which is rather nice, though I did find it a bit of a gimmick. The orchestra pit is shamefully partially hidden and can only be seen through the broken windows on the right side of the stage. I found the acting to be a little bit tepid, though the singing is wonderful particularly by the two leads. Jamie Davis who plays the nine year old Leon/David was very impressive as was Michael Matus for his comedic performance as Pompey.

All in all, I found Imagine This to be an above average musical. I thought it was more enjoyable than Candice, the only musical so far that I've slept partly through. Jennifer on the other hand found it to be exciting and was thoroughly pleased by the whole thing, as did most of the crowd (standing ovations included). Regardless of what you think of it Imagine This, it is most definitely the most daring new musical West End has seen in years. More of this will be welcomed, especially in London. Perhaps a musical about occupied Palestine or Guantanamo Bay next?


Imagine This is currently playing at New London Theatre, Drury Lane (Covent Garden)

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