Imagine This, 4****, London

Book by Glenn Berenbeim Music by Shuki Levi Lyrics by David Goldsmith.

The Union Theatre, to 18 November 2017.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7261 9876.
Review: William Russell 29 October.

Cast and director triumph
Imagine This is about a group of actors trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto staging a play about Masada to entertain the other inmates and also make a point to their Nazi captors. The score, however, is hum drum, the lyrics banal and the book leaves one aghast at the insensitivities it contains. But this revival – it had a brief London run a decade ago – is directed with flair and resource by Harry Blumenau and has a first rate cast, that it proves one of the best shows producer Sasha Regan has fielded at her theatre in ages.

They earn the four stars because the show itself is really a two star one at best. But as an example of how talent can save this day this revival really cannot be bettered.

It was savaged in 2008 by the critics, including myself, and it deserved to be. The piece reeks of trying to do for the ghetto what 1964’s Fiddler on the Roof did for pogroms. However, that said, some of the tunes are undeniably pretty and there is no getting away from the fact the accomplished cast can sing.

Nick Wyschna gives a terrific power house performance as the players’ leader, Lauren James Ray is touching as his daughter Rebecca, who falls for Adam, a young resistance fighter they are hiding, played by Shaun McCourt, who is made to perform Silva the Roman general in the Masada playlet. It all gets a bit confusing as real life love and play love get intertwined. McCourt rises to his songs effortlessly. There is also a lovely performance, in spite of not being ten, from Daniel Noah, who manages

the difficult task of being a little boy trapped in a world he does not understand perfectly.

Add a good set by Justin Williams, fine choreography from Kevan Allen and a first rate band under Alex Williams and – provided you can take the infelicities of the story in your stride – the result is well worth catching.

Daniel Warshowsky (Eleazar): Nick Wyschna.
Rebecca (Tamar): Lauren James Ray.
Leon (David) Daniel Noah.
Sarah (Naomi) Abbey Downs.
Adolph Warshowsky (Caesar): Gareth Davies.
Adam (Silva): Shaun McCourt,
Otto (Rufus): Rob Hadden.
Lola (Salome): Rebecca Ferrin.
Jan (Aaron): Richard Dawes.
Izzey (Pompey): Robert Wilkes.
Jacob/ SS officer/ Roman soldier: Conor Anderson.
Captain Vlick: Jonny Muir.
Hannah Warshowsky (Eva) Lily de la Haye.
Esther: Laurel Dougall.
SS Officer/ Roman Soldier: Albert Linasell & Andrew Cannon.

Director: Harry Blumenau.
Choreographer: Kevan Allen.
Musical Director: Alex Williams.
Set Designer: Justin Williams.
Costume Designer: Carrie-Ann Stein.
Lighting Designer: Ben Jacobs.

2017-11-02 10:19:57

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