Review: Princess Caraboo, Finborough Theatre

“Send us a pineapple for the wedding breakfast”

What was the last lie you told? How much was at stake and did you even think of the consequences? Such are the questions being raised at Briarwood Hall in Sir Charles Worrall’s talk on the study of lies and lying to which we’re all invited. And to illustrate his thesis and to break up the Greek philosophy, he’s employed his staff to act out musical scenes of a notable scandal of the 1820s in which his family was involved. So begins Phil Willmott and Mark Collins’ new musical Princess Caraboo in an amusing and inventive manner, which entertains right until the last porky pie has been told.

Based on real events, the Princess Caraboo was a woman who claimed to have been shipwrecked on the English shore and taken in by some well-meaning sorts in the Worralls, was able to inveigle her way into the heights of Regency society. But by highlighting this deception from the start, Willmott’s book is more concerned with the way in which such lies take hold and are promulgated by societal convention and the need to maintain a facade of propriety. It adds up to an effective and affecting piece of storytelling and reaffirms the Finborough’s commitment to supporting British musical theatre. Continue reading “Review: Princess Caraboo, Finborough Theatre”

Review: Road Show, Union Theatre

“Carelessness and being free of care,
Aren’t they the same?”

Since its inception in 1999, Stephen Sondheim’s Road Show – with book by John Weidman – has undergone considerable rehabilitation, not least three title changes, and so has rarely been seen on this side of the Atlantic. John Doyle transferred his Off-Broadway production to the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2011 for its European premiere but this is the first UK revival since then, director Phil Willmott continuing a mini-residency at the Union after last month’s fine Fear and Misery of the Third Reich

But where the episodic nature of Brecht’s storytelling worked well, Road Show is less successful in stringing together its vignettes of chasing the American Dream into something more affectingly substantial. The show follows the contrasting but always connected lives of brothers Wilson and Addison Meisner (per the programme) as they seek to parlay guts and gumption into something more, taking unsuspecting benefactors, love interests and easy marks along for the ride. Continue reading “Review: Road Show, Union Theatre”