#Tweetingit – 5***** A stunning musical radiating with charm and elegance with a great score and stirring songs. Forget that sentimental mush by Celine Dion, this is the business
Some might question the wisdom of setting a disaster to music and wonder if it pushes the boundaries of good taste too far.
I might have agreed but it would seem that the Titanic provides a rare exception to this rule.
Titanic has a patent sense of drama, intrigue and romance; it was a microcosm of a class ridden era, where money bought a room with a view and a seat at the captain’s table. Degrees of wealth divided passengers between the splendour of 1st class and comfort of 2nd class. Alas, many more travellers were callously dumped in 3rd class, treated no better than hand luggage. The unsinkable Titanic exploited weaknesses in maritime regulations, with lifeboats for less than half of those on board. A Hollywood scriptwriter could not have drawn better characters; J. Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line; determined to prove his ship could make the fastest Atlantic crossing; Captain E J Smith; pandering to Ismay’s demands against his better judgment; and Thomas Andrews, the architect who sacrificed passenger safety for opulent galleries
This stunning production makes the most of this gripping storyline, pulling together various sub plots into one coherent piece. Peter Stone’s compact book neatly distils the ship’s history while Maury Yeston provides music and lyrics that are thankfully more classical than popular, providing reverence to a story that still packs a hefty emotional punch. The cast were note perfect throughout the performance; with ensemble numbers like ‘Godspeed Titanic’ and ‘We’ll meet tomorrow’ proving the real standouts. The staging is a miracle of simplicity, with a raised platform and movable stairway to display events above and below deck. The liberal use of dry ice gave the necessary effect of coldness and impression of heat coming from a hatch to the engine room. The intimacy of the Charing Cross Theatre also allowed a close up of some excellent costumes which were authentic in every detail
Act I ended just as Titanic hit the iceberg, which meant Act II would have to deal with the
slightly tricky subject of a ship sinking and the loss of 1500 lives. As we know, musicals deal in happy endings and Titanic is anything but; more a tragedy borne out of stupidity, arrogance and complacency. But they pull off a finale which is dramatic, sensitive and genuinely moving tribute to those that perished. A safety curtain descended at the end revealing a complete list of those who died. Even after 104 years, it still has the ability to send a shiver up and down the spine. We remain fascinated by the legend and tantalising questions that remain unanswered; why was the iceberg spotted so late; what delayed RMS Carpathia from reaching Titanic sooner and was William Murdoch really at fault as officer on the bridge; should he have rammed past the iceberg instead of trying to steer clear of it? History is all about hindsight, which is of a course a truly wonderful thing.
This show works like a dream not only because of the script, songs and staging, but a wonderful cast who don’t put a foot wrong. David Bardsley was particularly outstanding as Ismay, as was Sion Lloyd as Andrews; James Gant as Etches and Scott Cripps as Murdoch. A brilliantly executed musical which surely merits transfer to a larger venue
Music & Lyrics: Maury Yeston
Story & Book: Peter Stone
Director: Thom Sutherland
Musical Director: Joanna Cichonska
Producer: Stephen M. Levy
Box Office: 08444 930 650
Booking until: 6 August 20