Just a brief note on Rent as it is closing tomorrow and sadly I could find little constructive to say about it. I somehow have remained immune to the charms of Jonathan Larson’s show despite it gaining a fanatical following amongst some and so the prospect of seeing it filled me with much less anticipation than it did my companions for the evening. And for me, Paul Taylor-Mills’ production at the Greenwich Theatre did little to convince me to change my mind.
A 90s pop-rock updating of Puccini’s La Bohème, the focus becomes a community of bohemians in New York’s Lower East Side as HIV/AIDS spreads its lethal influence as they all struggle to hold onto their dreams. There’s undoubtedly a dated feel to the material, something exacerbated by the low budget design of set and costume which feels rough around the edges but not in a way which really worked with the show.
And though there are some performances are strong, Birketts Zoe and Jamie, Benjamin Stratton and Edward Standoll all had moments for me, there’s an accompanying rawness to much of the portrayals – not helped by the most substantial of writing it must be said – which felt incomplete rather than fresh. With an oppressive sound design and random directorial choices, this was not a good night at the theatre for me.