Review: Fury and Elysium, The Other Palace

The ambition behind new musical Fury and Elysium is certainly admirable at The Other Palace, but the execution just isn’t there yet

“All the rules you’ve been taught don’t exist
Break them nonetheless”

In the febrile atmosphere of post-WW1 Berlin, the potential for change was rich in the air. A genuine cultural renaissance took place even as the nation attempted to stave off financial collapse, different facets of society responding in such different ways, whether in that cultural innovation or in the fomenting of a nascent brand of fascism that would soon explode so distrubingly.

With a book by Stephanie Martin and music and lyrics by Calista Kazuko Georget, Fury and Elysium delves deep into this period to explore the lives of six women who actually walked the walk. Jewish, queer, trans people who battled the anti-Semitism, homophobia and misogyny in the melting pot that was, and still is, Berliner society. It’s a concept with a huge amount of potential.

At its current stage of development, I’m not sure that Fury and Elysium quite fulfils it yet. The six women brought together are distinct and disparate characters who never met in real life and Martin’s book struggles to establish a rationale for bringing them together. So the result is six thumbnail character sketches doing battle in a non-linear fashion and all losing, rather than elucidating their subjects.

Dadaist artists, socialist activists, shrewd madams, writers, actors, dancers, there’s worlds upon worlds of material here and with a relatively economical running time, precious little time to explore them. A committed company do their best – Ashley Goh and Michal Horowicz particular standouts for me – with a challenging score that revels in the diverse influences from which it pulls.

You’re left wanting everything to be more daring. A proper queering of the form from Martin’s writing, direction from Rafaella Marcus and Karoline Gable that infuses more imagination than just straight biopic work, a recognition that extraordinary lives deserve extraordinary treatment. There’s flashes of it here, particularly in the underlying thread of how intolerance is passed through the generations, but more development would serve well.

Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Lexi Clare Photography
Fury and Elysium is booking at The Other Palace until 18th June

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