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Company - A Review by Oliver Valentine

Published by: Luke Tudball on 21st Apr 2009 | View all blogs by Luke Tudball

COMPANY                           Ye Olde Rose and Crown, Walthamstow.

 

Company at Walthamstow’s Ye Olde Rose and Crown theatre pub is a must for all musical theatre lovers. It will delight Sondheim fans and may even convert those new to his work into avid disciples.

Modernised to the age of computer dating by All Star Productions, Company shows that finding the right companion is just as difficult now as it has ever been. The story follows the journey of Bobby, a single man just turned thirty five and under pressure by his friends to find a long- term partner. Various viewpoints on the subject are presented in a series of short scenes that generally show the less than ideal aspects of commitment.

Aaron Clingham’s musical direction is spot-on. In the intimate venue it was close-up and personal, and it was thrilling to hear stunning harmonies so near that they actually vibrated through your body. The cast are at their most effective when singing as an ensemble, and it was a joy to hear perfect renditions of songs likeSide By SideCompany and other classics that make this Sondheim musical so remarkable. Nevertheless sometimes the band were very loud, and occasionally the lyrics and vocals of solos were drowned out by the backing.

Sebastian Rex’s mostly tight direction showed an imaginative use of the oblong performance area, and there were some nifty moves for the livelier numbers. However Rex is clearly not a fan of the power of stillness or the economy of movement. At every opportunity he has the cast physicalising. His favourite move had the actors flailing their arms about their head and body in what looked like a bizarre fusion of voguing and the YMCA dance. And the intimacy of Barcelona was completely destroyed when a dancer suddenly appeared from under the bed doing a contemporary piece like a crazed fairy on Viagra.  I am sure it was meant to represent something deep and meaningful but it was often very distracting and contributed little to the numbers.

Company not only has exceptional songs but a great book by George Furth which allows the cast to showcase their acting skills. All performances are good but it is the women who really carry this production. Claudia Morcroft is brilliant as dizzy trolley-dolly April, Alix Dunmore gives a dazzling performance as Amy the manically reluctant bride and Julie Ross is utterly compelling as Joanne. Of the men Joe Scheffer is outstanding as Harry.

As a person who rarely goes beyond zone two the schlep to Walthamstow seemed tantamount to going to the outer Hebrides, and whoever planned the eight o’clock  start leading to a very late closing time clearly has no idea how difficult it is to get decent public transport from this venue at night. In fact I only got half-way home before the promised trains decided not to appear. During this emergency I was forced to stay over unexpectedly at friend’s house and spent the evening raving about the show, while singing badly the entire repertoire to him. Get a ticket while you can.

 

OLIVER VALENTINE                                  Box Office: 0208 509 3880

Comments

2 Comments

  • Luke Tudball
    by Luke Tudball 8 years ago
    This article was written by Oliver Valentine, all credit in this regard is his, not mine
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