The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted by putting
archive recordings of past productions online, others by streaming new
shows. Until things return to normal we review the experience of
watching live theatre
YouTube Summer 2020
This 2006 Broadway
production, recorded for US Public Television, is inventive and even
re-inventive, one of the best versions of this most-Sondheimish of
Sondheim musicals since the original.
British audiences may
recognise many in the cast – star Raul Esparza is best known, even
to Americans, for a running role on one of the Law And Order variants
– but they will be happy to be introduced to them.
theatregoers may well recognise the signature style of director John
Doyle, casting actor-singers who also play instruments, so they serve
as the onstage orchestra, carrying their instruments around in
character and accompanying each other and sometimes themselves.
staging device proves particularly apt for Company, which calls for
the secondary characters to double as a commenting chorus, and the
sight of instrumentalists moving about the stage contributes to the
show's everybody-watching-everybody-else atmosphere.
It also allows
for some clever and even insightful twists on audience expectations.
In You Could Drive A Person Crazy the three girls carry their saxes
as they sing, with the boop-boop-a-doops replaced by saxophone
bleats. The shock moment in Side By Side when Bobby realises he has
no partner is set up by short instrumental duets rather than dance
And when Bobby sits down
at a piano to accompany himself in
Being Alive, all the cultural weight of lonely saloon singers
supports the dramatic moment.
Belated reminder: Bobby,
bachelor, observes all the imperfections of his friends' marriages,
but is then forced to examine his own single life. And Raul Esparza
is the most observant and note-taking Bobby I've ever seen, very much
to the show's betterment.
Rather than being
blithely detached through
most of the evening only to have a shock epiphany near the end,
Esparza shows Bobby's self-satisfaction wavering almost from the
start. The video version's close-ups help us see him seeing and
thinking about both the good and bad he sees around him.
among previous Bobbys he is aware of the chorus, and reacts to the
challenges of The Little Things and other commentary numbers.
may be one reason why Marry Me A Little, which was added to the score
after the first production and has always seemed out of place to me,
works better here than ever before – it is appropriate and
dramatically satisfying that this Bobby should let us see, as the Act
One climax, how far he's come and how far he has yet to go.
a one-man show. Though Barbara Walsh, like every other actress-singer
playing sophisticate Joanne, can only confirm that she is not Elaine
Stritch, Walsh comes closer than anyone else but Stritch in capturing
the disappointment in herself that generates Joanne's attacks on
others, and her Ladies Who Lunch is as powerful as you're ever likely
Angel Desai's Marta is
less hippie and more
adopted-New-Yorker, transforming Another Hundred People from mere
patter song to a slightly mournful blues. And, speaking of patter
songs, Heather Laws goes delightfully crazy in Getting Married, while
Elizabeth Stanley raises April from stock dumb blonde to a figure of
An excellent Company to see as your first or twentieth.
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