Crime and Punishment
The Scoop, City Hall
31st Aug – 25th Sept 2016, Wed – Sun at 6pm
Gods and Monsters present as part of
London’s FREE Open Air Theatre Season
Review by Richard Lambert 3 Stars ***
This production has a strong start with flag waving song and dance. Unfortunately it rapidly dropped to tedious and predictable. The script has limited highlights and is over-long. Without any noticeable costume changes and some bizarre goggles worn by the cast it lacks cohesion.
Songs by Toyah Wilcox pepper the evening. It’s always a crowd-pleaser when the songs are known and although not performed with the same flair, style, gusto and energy of Toyah the musical numbers lift the show to where it should be.
I can’t imagine anyone going to this show would subsequently rush off to buy tickets to a theatre version of “Crime and Punishment”. The scripted sections were a real downer during the evening. A delay between the good bits when the Cast return to performing Toyah’s musical numbers.
With the head-mics piped to the speakers behind the audience and the backing tracks played from the stage it was often difficult to know who was speaking or singing without a good look at all of the cast on stage. The Sound Operator seemed to have similar problems knowing who was speaking as evidenced by mics being turned on after the actor had started speaking on several occasions. The location and direction of the Sound felt odd. All the cast remained on stage for the majority of the first half of the show. They didn’t seem to have any direction so this also felt odd. The 2 x Follow (Beam) Spots did a grand job with expert operators picking out the principals as darkness fell.
And what was with the goggles? I really didn’t get it. Costumes resembling Mr Biggles the Musical. I hoped that I’d understand the reason by the end of the show but sadly I still don’t understand. Were the costumes from another production?
The Set works for Polish folklore (see The Wawel Dragon Review here) previous show and this production, set in St Petersburg, really well! With plenty of internally lit windows, front entrance and platform, chimneys for smoke effects, and great lighting moments it’s stylish and memorable! The long walk-around for the Cast to get to the audience entrances in full view of the audience somehow adds something – a visible journey into their scene – that’s very site-specific and works very well.
I’d so like to see this done as a concert version. Cut the script down to its bare minimum focus more on the Choreography and make a punchier production! Aran McRae and Angela Laverick both deliver stand-out performances in their performance songs!
A casual stroll along the river City Hall area will allow you to look over the wall and see the production. On a pleasant evening following a sunny day this is highly recommended! Also, don’t forget to bring your out-of-towner friends. This Festival and The Scoop are not to be missed!