Good Friday found us wandering aimlessly around the Damien Hirst show at Tate Modern with hordes of tourists and families with small noisy children in tow eagerly queuing up to walk in between a butchered cow, but at least we managed to snaffle up a couple of spin and butterfly plates to store in the airing cupboard in lieu of a pension. After waiting an age to see the diamond encrusted skull, which strangely has a missing tooth - surely a gold replacement would have been perfect, we walked along the river in the unexpected sunshine to the West End. What happened to the snow we were promised, I had my toboggan on standby?.
Following on from Mike Christie’s confident debut in the Landor’s fabulous The Glorious Ones, his former G4 band-mate, Jonathan Ansell, stars in this new(ish) musical version of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. With a top drawer creative team including Time alumni David Pomeranz, music, and David Soames, book; arrangements by Les Miserables’ John Cameron and direction by the original Jesus and Rum Tum Tugger, Paul Nicholas; this looked like it could well have aspirations beyond its present home in the arches below Charing Cross station. Mind you this little theatre, formerly The Players, has recently mounted several imaginative original musicals (Legacy Falls, Thrill Me, The Vaudevillains) and we have been forced to sit through Naked Boys Singing on more than one occasion. However, we were ill-prepared for what we were about to suffer.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, actually it was the latter. I really don’t have the energy or inclination to scribble more than a few words on this crime against musical theatre. There will be inevitable comparisons to Les Miserables, which it blatantly attempts to emulate, failing miserably at every step, but if you’ve ever wondered what a truly dreadful high school production of Les Mis would look like, look no further. Boring over-emoted songs, an undecipherable book, no character development and a striking resemblance to a French and Saunders parody make the entire evening unbearable. Even if Jonathan Ansell had taken his kit off like his late night Naked Boy theatre-mates, it would not have been enough to sustain my interest. How this is going to see out the run once it has exhausted Ansell’s fan club is beyond me, it makes Song of the Seagull seem like Sondheim.
Booking until 12 May 2012, if it survives that long - A Tale of Two Cities