Review: Pippin, Southwark Playhouse

“We’ve had our fill of grey skies”

I was snowed out of my original trip to Pippin at Southwark Playhouse and it has taken me more than a little while to be able to fit it back into my schedule. But although the production has had some excellent word of mouth, it wasn’t the one for me, unable to shake my feeling that this is a musical of which I’m just not very fond.

Originating at the Hope Mill Theatre last year, Jonathan O’Boyle’s lively production bears the hallmarks of much of the strong work from this new northern mini-powerhouse. An enthusiastic young cast (led here by Jonathan Carlton and Genevieve Nicole), and a rough and ready but charismatic design (Maeve Black) that uses the space well.

But the creative endeavour can’t disguise a challenging story that I continue to struggle to connect with. The Menier’s production a few years back tried for a video game aesthetic that worked well enough for me as a newcomer to the show but here, a ‘straighter’ take falls flat in its attempts to make a leading character we should care about out of Roger O Hirson’s book.

Fortunately, Stephen Schwartz’s score has a lot of good tunes stuffed into it, played well here under Zach Flis’ musical direction but for me, Pippin remains a show with magic still to do.

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Pamela Raith
Pippin is booking at the Southwark Playhouse until 24th March

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