Saturday, 22 November 2008

Imagine This - New London Theatre

Imagine This
Book: Glenn Berenbiem
Music: Shuki Levy
Lyrics: David Goldsmith
Director: Timothy Sheader
Choreogpraher: Liam Steel
Reviewer: Anthony Timmons
“Imagine This” is based on a fascinating idea: – the parallels between the Warsaw Ghetto and the siege of Masada some nineteen hundred years earlier. This is attempted by the stratagem of a play within a play. It is a good attempt at conveying an interesting idea but there is some stretching- notably the Romans come out of it fairly poorly. Generally it works dramatically, but I did feel that the “play within the play” was a little too complex for the coherence of the overall piece. The complexity led to the first half being a bit over long and under plotted but the second half was much tauter.

A musical on this kind of theme can be a challenge – there is a danger of undermining the seriousness of the issues or perhaps making them sentimental. Largely the piece avoids this although I did feel making the closing number a reprise of the opening scene didn’t really end in the inspiring way I’d of liked and overall it did quite rise to its subject.

The train shed set was splendid and highly atmospheric and the production was well designed throughout.

The opening scene of each half was a brilliant set piece very well choreographed and there were further scenes throughout. However particularly during the first half there seemed to be an awful lot of young men dancing with sticks which did get a bit samey. Also samey was the music – there were some good numbers notably the opening but again, particularly during the first half there were long passages which didn’t really do it for me and not enough contrast. All in all music and lyrics were very much of their genre and I just felt this clever idea called about for a bit more.

The company acted and sang their hearts out. I felt they were fantastic despite my reservations over some aspects of the piece. It was hard to single anyone out of the wonderful ensembles although Peter Polycarpou as the central father figure in both the reality and the play within the play engaged you and drew you right into the action. I was really impressed with Leon played by young actor Nathan Attard: he threw himself into his role with the same unflagging enthusiasm and professionalism of the rest of the cast – a nice touch.
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