Review: Ghost Quartet, Boulevard Theatre

London’s newest (and one of the swankiest) theatre opens with the weird but wonderful Ghost Quartet

“I will become the next big thing”

I remain unconvinced that London needs any new theatrical venues but the Boulevard Theatre, building on its impressive historical legacy, has at least made its case by striking out on a different note with a programme that embraces Soho’s late-night nature as much as London’s theatre ecology at large. And as such, it is a hugely impressive venue with high quality bars, menus and seating to dream of.

And its opening salvo, Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet, is a pleasingly quirky thing. London recently had the pleasure of his Preludes and though this is less sonically arresting, it is no less inventive. A song cycle of sorts, it pulls together stories of love and loss from past and present, fact and fiction, and meshes them with a true pick’n’mix of musical styles that range from haunted folk to hushed hymnals.

Bill Buckhurst’s actor-muso production does a brilliant job at capturing the intimate atmosphere needed to make this kind of storytelling work, only just falling short of toasted marshmallows on the campfire. And through its four performers – Carly Bawden, Niccolò Curradi, Maimuna Memon, Zubin Varla – finds an ensemble confident enough to ebb and flow into the spotlight as necessary.

As Scheherazade rubs shoulders with Edgar Allen Poe’s Usher family, the beauty of so many aspects shine through. Curradi’s cello, Memon’s lower range, Varla’s piano-playing, Bawden’s every move… And without wanting to give too muvh away, the final sequence is breathtakingly beautiful. A Boulevard to consider taking a stroll down.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Marc Brenner
Ghost Quartet is booking at the Boulevard Theatre until 4th January

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