Wednesday, October 29

Les Miserables Click for more info

It had been way too long since I last went to see a musical, so I was looking forward to Les Miserables. It's the last of the "big" productions I had yet to see (amongst the others, in my subjective opinion, were Miss Saigon, Phantom and Chicago), and I went in with pretty high expectations.

The first disappointment wasn't the fault of the play itself, as our top priced tickets placed us on the front row. Still, the view wasn't as bad as it could have been from that vicinity and my neck isn't too sore as a result.

Seating aside Les Miserables was solid and entertaining - which although positive is hardly the staid response I had to some of the other musicals I've seen. My biggest gripe was with the lack of focus on any one particular theme. Is Les Mis a romance? A comedy? A tragedy? The truth is that it had pretty much everything and as a result struggled to shine in any one bit. I found myself not caring enough about most of the pivotal events probably since they didn't require any emotional investment on the way.

I must admit that I was a bit miffed for not being able to see Les Mis at the Palace - growing up it was the dominating sight on Shaftesbury Avenue for me as well as being important for other personal reasons. Still, Queen's Theatre wasn't that shabby either if a bit small.

Technically though, Les Mis shined. The performances (the acting, dancing and singing) were all brilliant; Drew Sarich's Jean Valjean totally stealing the show for me, with the younger performances also deserving a mention. The stage was clever, with its rotating base and some of the larger props were both very well put together and utilised. Costume was awesome too and it took me a while to keep track of those actors who happened to play more than one role. In fact, I'd say the show was worth watching just for its technical brilliance.

Overall though, I'm not quite sure what to think about Les Mis. There were plenty in the audience who had seen it before and further claimed that this was the best production they had seen of the play; I obviously don't have any previous viewings to compare it too, but the fact that I've come away with mixed feelings does say something. In some ways I found its multiple themes to be a bit too distracting and so now ironically find myself in dire need of something a bit more straightforward.