The Union, Southwark (venue)
09 June 2017 (released)
12 June 2017
Entering its last week at the Union Theatre, Annie Get Your Gun, is a heel-kicking explosion of yee-haw presented in the intimacy of one of London’s cosiest performance spaces.
The 1945 Irving Berlin musical, popularised in 1950 by MGM in technicolour, includes ‘There’s no business like show business’ and ‘Anything I can do’ was revised by Peter Stone in the 90’s to remove some of the racial insensitivities that were more acceptable when the show was first written.
Tucked under a railway arch in Southwark, The Union has a capacity of 60 and is a rarity in theatre with a larger performance space than seating area. The venue has a wonderful atmosphere with the occasional rumbling of a train which lends something of a ‘fringe-feel’ amplified by the proximity of the audience to the performers.
Gemma Maclean delivers a confident Annie Oakley that I’m pretty sure Betty Hutton would have approved of and is supported by Blair Robertson in the role of Annie’s thigh-slapping, chauvinistic, love interest, Frank Butler. Maclean and Robertson’s performances were solid and convincing in a hugely engaging production that has a great pace to it.
The husband-hunting Dolly Tate is played by Lala Barlow in what is the production’s ‘ugly sister’ role; an opponent of her sister’s marriage to a native American and slightly obsessed with her fading youth and social standing. Tate has a personality you’re clearly not supposed to like, but Barlow’s characterisation of the thirty-something show-manager’s assistant makes her quite endearing to the audience; she certainly brings comedic value.
Under the direction of Kirk Jameson, Ste Clough and Amy West’s choreography complement the space inside the Union Theatre wonderfully, they’ve allowed individual performances to shine and coexist within a production that is very much the ‘sum of its parts’, and parts that were very well played, both on and off stage. This show really deserves to enjoy a busy final week; it offers a unique opportunity to enjoy a west-end production within the intimacy of a fringe environment.
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