music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim book by George Furth.
Southwark Playhouse Shipwright Yard corner of Tooley Street and Bermondsey Street SE1 2TF To 12 March 2011.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs: 2hr 15mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7407 0234.
Review: Carole Woddis 5 March.
Fabulous Company for the evening.
Are there any more superlatives left to describe Stephen Sondheim’s Company? Written almost exactly 40 years ago, it combines pathos with wit in perfect proportions. Every song is a winner whether your taste is for the lyrical or the enduring razzamataz of ‘Side by Side/ What Would We Do Without You’ – surely one of the greatest exemplars of showbiz in all its foot stomping togetherness. And by god, don’t director Joe Fredericks and his brilliant cast do that number, and Sondheim credit.
Southwark Playhouse may suffer from an unglamorous site closeted under the London Bridge arches but there is nothing hand-me-down about this cast – a combination of West End tried and tested and newcomers that loses nothing in comparison with Sam Mendes’ glitzier Donmar revival in 1994 starring Adrian Lester as Bobby, the perennial batchelor unable to commit to a full relationship.
This Company confirms just the depth of talent there is over and above the names that get the usual star billing. Fredericks’ production, too, provides a real find in Rupert Young’s Bobby – a thin, dishevelled and troubled young man, a bit of a groper – whom Young endows with the constant smile of one trying to hide a whirlpool of inner turbulence.
A seriously serial social butterfly flitting between girl friends and married friends in a frantic attempt to fight off confronting himself, Sondheim (music and lyrics) and George Furth (book) surround him with a clutch of sizzlingly ironic songs such as ‘Sorry-Grateful, Marry Me A Little’ in which Bobby is both reflected back and reflects on the married state for which he yearns but manages to find ways of avoiding.
Indeed, his final ‘Being Alive’ – fury against and desperation to be loved banging painfully up against each other – suffers only from the lack of the song Sondheim never chose to write. Because, for all its clever cover-up, Company can ultimately be read as an endorsement of the single state.
By the by, Sondheim has given us the perfect New York musical to which Fredericks has responded with beguiling zest. Utterly Fab.
Bobby: Rupert Young.
Sarah: Leigh McDonald.
Harry: Matthew White.
Peter: Adam Venus.
Amy: Cassidy Janson.
Paul: Greg Castiglioni.
Joanne: Siobhan McCarthy.
Jenny: Julia J. Nagle.
Larry: Mary Curry.
David: Steven Serlin.
Susan: Laura Main.
April: Katie Brayben.
Kathy: Poppy Roe.
Marta: Michelle Bishop.
Director/Producer: Joe Fredericks.
Designer: Paul Wills.
Lighting: Mike Robertson.
Sound: Andrew Johnson.
Musical Director: Oli Jackson.
Choreographer: Sam Spencer-Lane.
Fight director: Jeff Peterson
Associate director: Jez Bond.
Assistant director: Anthony Coleridge.
Assistant designer: Adrian Gee.
Assistant musical director: Will Stuart.
Assistant choreographer: Angela Nesi.
First performance of this production, Feb 2, 2011.