book by Peter Stone music and Lyrics by Maury Yeston.
Southwark Playhouse (The Large) 77-85 Newington Causeway SE1 6BD To 31 August 2013.
Mon–Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3.30 pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 407 0234.
Review: William Russell 1 August 2013.
That sinking and drowning feeling.
Thom Southerland’s production could hardly be bettered, but several of his cast need to learn how to sing in this staging of Maury Yeston’s 1997 Broadway musical.
Words get swallowed time and again, the result of poor technique caused by bad drama school training, and is unfortunate because Yeston’s lyrics deserve to be heard, although his score – this is one of those more or less sung-through shows – is never more than competent.
Titanic lacks show-stopping songs and, although it has several rousing choral numbers, nobody will leave humming anything.
It does, however, have a splendidly-tooled book by Peter Stone which manages to tell the story of how the Titanic went down, and the social background, with commendable clarity. Interestingly we don’t get any lifeboat stuff – the ship goes down and the drama switches to the Carparthia and the survivors.
This first British staging may well delight Southwark’s audiences, but the creators are flogging a dead ship because there is arguably nothing more to be said about the sinking of the Titanic in dramatic terms. In addition Stone’s book, for all its skilful structure, has nothing new to add while his take on the social differences which determined the fate of so many is anything but subtle.
The large cast works hard, doubling many roles – it gets confusing at times as rich become poor – and only the older members make much of an impression. Dudley Rogers and Judith Street are very touching as the aged Mr and Mrs Strauss, who decided to drown together, Philip Rham is a noble Captain Smith, and Simon Green wonderfully loathsome as the appalling White Star Line boss, J Bruce Ismay, whose insistence on speed led to the accident. Others are a tribute to the identikit skills of the drama schools that produced them.
And Titanic lacks focus; one couldn’t care less who survives and in the case of at last one would actively have helped her drown. But it is melodious, if not particularly memorably so, the orchestra is terrific, and Southerland’s endlessly inventive direction alone would be reason enough to see it.
Barrett: James Austen-Murray.
Lightoller: Dominic Brewer.
Andrews: Greg Castiglioni.
Kate Mullins: Scarlett Courtney.
Bride: Matthew Crowe.
Bellboy/Hartley: Jonathan David Dudley.
Kate Murphy: Grace Eccle.
Alice Beane: Celia Graham.
Ismay: Simon Green.
Edgar Beane: Oliver Hembrough.
Pitman/Etches: James Hume.
Murdoch: Sion Lloyd.
Caroline Neville: Claire Marlowe.
Jim Farrell: Shane McDaid.
Fleet: Leo Miles.
Charles Clarke: Nadim Naaman.
Captain Smith: Philip Rham.
Isidor Straus: Dudley Rogers.
Kate McGowan: Victoria Serra.
Ida Strauss: Judith Street.
Director: Thom Southerland.
Designer/Costumer: David Woodhead.
Lighting: Howard Hudson.
Sound: Andrew Johnson.
Musical Stager: Cressida Carre.
Musical Director: Mark Aspinall.
Projections: Victor Craven.