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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

Pulling all the stops out: Gypsy

Gypsy has been running since April, and four months in Imelda Staunton’s performance as the mother of all stage mothers is still fascinating, exciting and exhausting to watch. It's amazing showcase in stamina, guts and determination, and that's just working with the material.

Staunton previously managed to give new meaning and depth to the role of Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Here she gives a dramatic sense of determination and vulnerability to the role.

And what lingers after the show is her exquisite vocals that give a velvety depth to the character. While there is an album from the show, after hearing her sing in this show I really want to hear her  sing jazz standards. Afterall she knows how to writhe every possible meaning out of a lyric.

But star power (and future album wish lists) aside, this show has a gritty feel that at times feels a bit too joyless. You are left without a doubt that this show is really about the race to the bottom, which is not necessarily a good thing with a night out at the theatre.

To be fair it is a challenging musical. There is no real romance, the only love here is the love of being on stage. And it ends (and this is a possible spoiler for anyone unfamiliar with the show) with the daughter agreeing to look after her mother. That's not a musical fable that's real life.

But you can’t help but get the feeling that the production missed the chance to explain the time, place and magic of Vaudeville better. Instead there are a series of rolling titles on the side and a series of static sets wheeled on and off.

Louise Gold, Julie Legrand and Anita Louise Combe provide welcome  comic relief as the jaded and faded strippers working what little talent and dignity they have left. But it is awfully late in the show.

Gypsy runs at the Savoy Theatre until 28 November.


Photo credit: Production photo by Johan Persson

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