The Scottsboro Boys review - October 2014

A real and unforgettable work of art.

I was laughing, but soon I felt sick for doing so. Such is the power of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s entertaining yet harrowing musical, The Scottsboro Boys, which is based on the real life trials of 9 black men wrongly accused of rape in the 1930’s.

Susan Stroman provides the show with the bold bite that David Thompson’s book requires and the result is a real and unforgettable work of art.

The extraordinary cast deliver from start to finish as they present the events in the format of a minstrel show, thus allowing cutting social and political commentary to be presented through the glaze of some good old fashioned razzle dazzle. Such a technique establishes an unsettling tone with the audience as we ponder whether this is a subject matter that should be laughed at. I always think theatre is best when it packs a punch, and this show certainly did that.

Kander and Edd’s score is near perfect, providing a fluid blend of dazzling ensemble numbers and heartfelt solos. Their music, coupled with Stroman’s choreography was high class, bringing some old school Broadway magic to the Garrick Theatre.

The cast were truly sublime and all equally as fantastic as one another. Brandon Victor Dixon was powerful and unwavering as Haywood Patterson, the shows voice of strident justice. Dixon’s character was a stark contrast to that of Keenan Munn Francis who played 13 year old Eugene Williams. The harsh brutality racism becomes even more vivid as we witness a child thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit just because the colour of his skin. Munn Francis, although the youngest on stage, delivers a truly ovation worthy performance, as do the rest of the cast.

The character of “Interlocutor”  is expertly portrayed by Julian Glover who leads the boys into several song and dance numbers as if they are his personal performing monkeys. It is somewhat horrible to watch but makes the racist themes even more poignant.

The use of set is fantastic, I loved the vivid sound and bold lighting design. Together with the flawless choreography, excellent score and truly skilled performers, this show is a true delight to experience and leaves the audience with a lasting impression.

Go and see this show!

20 October 2014, Garrick Theatre