A Little Night Music

Tue 10th – Sat 14th May 2016

reviews

Clare Cavenagh

at 22:53 on 10th May 2016

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A Little Night Music is great. That's very much going to be the theme of this review, so I thought I'd make that clear from the outset. It's great. You should totally go. The music was great, the cast were all singing and acting up a storm, and the show itself is hilarious and infuriating and damn entertaining from beginning to end.

For those, like me, who had never seen or heard the story of this show, it's one of those farces where you have one set of couples at the beginning and one at the end, composed of the same characters but distributed differently. In between the two groupings are countless dastardly plots, misunderstandings, accidental sightings and moments of realisation which are mostly hilarious, although also occasionally heartbreaking. It's filled with the kind of fun-for-all-the-family 1920s to 1950s-style sexism that we all feel so nostalgic for (at one point, a man describes women in general as "durable"). Don't let this put you off though - it's all delivered in a laughing-with humour, and the mood of the show is constantly harnessed by the more canny female characters, leading to much confusion and hilarity.

The whole show revolves around Desirée Armfeldt, a wildly attractive actress, not quite as young as she has been, but still managing to wrap everyone in sight around her little finger. This part was played by Ashleigh Weir with an astonishingly animated sense of fun, more than once drawing laughs through facial expressions during what might otherwise have been someone else's song. This marked her apart from Anne Egerman, played by Heather Conder with a wide, innocent smile and a frequently yet judiciously employed giggle. The man sitting in the middle of these two women is Fredrik Egerman, played by Tom Taplin, who did a great job of good-naturedly accepting the chaos around him. Brilliant too was his gentle but frustrated son Henrik (Hugh Cutting) who quickly became an audience favourite, and stunned with his singing. The Machiavellian and long-suffering Countess Charlotte Malcolm played by Holly Musgrave was fabulous, putting up with an absolute ass of a husband with sass and an eye-for-an-eye sense of justice.

Having said all that, I must now undermine it by saying that the entire cast were very strong, and it's tempting to talk about everyone. You know when you're watching a show, and the really good character/actor comes onstage and you think to yourself 'thank goodness they've come back on, they're my favourite'? Well, that sort of applies to every single entry in A Little Night Music.

The music itself was also great. Sondheim's score was brought to life skilfully by the excellent band, directed by Stephen Gage. In spite of a few technical issues, which will hopefully be sorted out for subsequent performances, both singing and instrumental music were pulled off very successfully.

A hilarious and slightly black script, great music, and catchy songs I'll definitely be downloading make A Little Night Music a wonderful show, and the brilliant cast and band mean that it will quite possibly be one of the highlights of this term. Exams may be approaching, but it you need to take some time out, this would be a great way to do it.

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