The London theatre scene could easily manage without another musical about love. But the UK premiere of this Australian-born celebration of the greatest of emotions by Peter Rutherford and James Millar is nevertheless as welcome, even as necessary, as every generation’s attempts to redefine love for themselves.
As far as 1960s audiences were concerned, Lionel Bart – famed for the musical Oliver – had lost his “twang” when he came up with the box office flop “Twang!!”, with two exclamation marks. But if the audiences of the swinging sixties weren’t ready, the 21st century theatre-goers of London’s Union Theatre – renowned for alternative, low-budget, high-entertainment musicals – are.
Women bosses who bully their ambitious young rivals are one aspect of female careerism that is under-explored. Bella Barlow and A.C. Smith at least start to redress the balance with a miniature musical played out underneath Waterloo’s railway arches as part of London’s vibrant Vault festival.
When Christopher Marlowe wrote Doctor Faustus at the end of the 16th century, he was already drawing on German accounts of a medieval legend with eternal and universal reach. Two centuries later, the epic struggle of good and evil was translated back into German in Goethe’s towering tragedy.
This epic work dates from 2000 and 18 years later it still has moments that beguile. Körper means Bodies and the 13 international dancers nearly all wear white underpants as a uniform that unerotically emphasises flesh, bones and blood.
Isabel Dixon of Burn Bright Theatre has dramatised Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein two hundred years after its first publication, with two women as its protagonists, Elizabeth Frankenstein and the creature, played by Danielle Winter and Elizabeth Schenk.
La Forza del Destino was first performed in 1862. Not satisfied, Verdi carried on revising it for years, adding in 1869 the famous sinfonia overture that announces so many of the work’s overwhelming musical themes.