Les Misérables review - January 2015
Viva La Revolution!Les Misérables is the longest running show in the West End. Almost 30 years since it debuted at the Barbican, the show somehow manages to appear just as fresh, slick and cutting night after night. Viva La Revolution!
Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Shonberg have produced several gems in their collaborative career (Martin Guerre, Miss Saigon ) but Les Misérables is undeniably the jewel in their crowns. The score is timeless and continually effecting; it is near impossible for any of the music to be sung with anything other than the utmost gusto!
Costumes are bold but set is kept to a minimum, allowing focus to be shared with the score and the bodies on stage. The only really impressive piece of set is the barricade, which acts a visual symbol of struggle of revolution and the social and ideological barriers dividing France.
Whilst the relatively sparse set is by and large a good thing, some small sections of the show do now look a touch outdated. Modern day theatre’s popular trend is that of the impressive set design (see The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time for example) so when Javert disappears into a “whirlpool” of measly light projection, it is a touch underwhelming for such a crucial plot development.
Having interviewed current Jean Valjean, Peter Lockyer, last year I very much wanted to see him perform the role. The PR team had previously told me it would be unlikely for me to secure a press ticket to see him due to the popularity of the show, so eventually I just coughed up my own cash only to discover he wasn’t on! None the less, Lockyer’s understudy, Simon Shorten was fantastic as Valjean, filling the stage with his presence and powerful vocals ( “TWO FOUR SIX OH ONEEEEEEE!”)
Celinde Schoenmaker and Carrie Hope Fletcher both sang beautifully as Fantine and Eponine, at times both bringing a tear to my eye. However the biggest surprise of all was Adam Linstead who, despite being on stage for just a few minutes as the kindly Bishop, absolutely owned the part in a seriously stand out way.
The moments where the show is at its absolute roof raising best is during the resonating ensemble numbers such as “At The End of The Day,” “Do You Hear The People Sing” and “One Day More.”
Les Misérables is SUCH a timeless classic, it is ALWAYS a treat to see the show and I really honestly think that it can’t be spoiled (although please nobody prove me wrong!)
Ultimately a musical is only as good as its music. By that logic, Les Misérables is the absolute best musical in town.
21 January 2015, Sondheim Theatre