Entertainment & Culture Theatre

Company theatre review

Written by Christian Butler

A radical revival of Company is playing at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End.

Stephen Sondheim’s musical comedy about marriage and commitment has been given a new twist…

A new take on an old classic

This funny and moving show about marriage was first produced on Broadway in 1970, coming to the West End two years later. It started Stephen Sondheim’s run of classic shows, giving him his first Tony awards in the process. The original show was set in 1970 and centred on a bachelor named Bobby. This revival makes some notable changes to the story. Not only is it now set in our modern day, but the protagonist is now a woman named Bobbie.

The story

In New York, Bobbie is celebrating her 35th birthday. Her friends, who all happen to be married couples, throw her a surprise birthday. The special occasion makes her reflect on her relationships in addition to feelings about commitment and marriage. The show portrays comedic vignettes of her interactions with her married friends, as well as her various boyfriends.

The score

Stephen Sondheim’s score was not only his first Tony award winner, but also the first indication of his musical genius. His lyrics are not just witty, but highly emotionally charged. Classics include the devastating showstopper ‘Ladies Who Lunch’, the hilarious patter song ‘(Not) Getting Married)’, and the show’s profound finale ‘Being Alive’.

The cast

Rosalie Craig reinvents the show’s protagonist with a highly charismatic performance. It’s a demanding performance, almost never leaving the stage during its entire two-and-a-half-hour length. She balances a fantastic comic timing with the more vulnerable moments of the character. Perhaps the cast’s biggest treat, however, is Patti Lupone. It’s a rare West End outing from Broadway legend. She plays Bobbie’s older friend, Joanne. Lupone matches a savage sarcasm with her remarkable belting singing voice.

The production

This new production is directed by Marianne Elliott. She has had tremendous success in the West End directing plays like War Horse. Her wonderful reinvention of the show enhances both the show’s comedic moments and its many surreal touches. With her craft, the show’s gender swap and present day setting never feels contrived. Elliott has succeeded in brilliantly bringing new life to this enduring classic.

For tickets and more information about Company, visit companymusical.co.uk.

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