Theatre FootNotes for October 2019 – a summary of other theatre events in my diary

BOTTICELLI IN THE FIRE at Hampstead Theatre.

Jordan Tannahill’s interesting but muddled play makes some good points amongst layers of inconsistency. But it doesn’t add up – the parallels between the Renaissance Florence and our current times (bridged by using modern technology, amongst others) doesn’t really work. As to the art, it never assumes its place as being almost a life blood, important enough to shock as canvases are wilfully destroyed. I have seen Dickie Beau, who plays Botticelli here, do some terrific work, particularly in a featured role in Somerset Maugham’s SHEPPEY a couple of years ago at the Orange Tree. Here, fronting the whole show, he seems miscast to me. Set design was clever and intriguing and the performance of Hiran Abeysekera as Leonardo was a low-key delight, fragile, tender and vulnerable, well worth sitting through the rest of the play for. But as to the Allan Carr-esque Disco Venus……

Daryl Griffiths’ ZOMBIES – THE MUSICAL at The Other Palace.

Good music, great orchestrations, great cast – shame about the book and lyrics. The concept was fine and more than interesting enough (search for cure to ageing leads to accident in lab which produces new strain of zombies, separated lovers search for each other). Although presented here in this workshop presentation are mainly the musical sections of the final show (supported by fun and lively screen interjections to move the plot along and give indications as to ambitions for the fully-staged production) the book appeared to need much work. Music was superbly orchestrated and sounded great, lifting the compositions which were rather along the lines expected for a musical comedy. Lyrics were unambitious and rather smutty for my taste. It is stated that inspiration came from shows such as Book of Mormon. I wish them luck in achieving similar heights, but before then the whole book and lyrics need to have more “smart” and less “smut” to work for me.

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