Phoenix Theatre (venue)
03 August 2017 (released)
05 August 2017
Evita, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s final, and possibly most interesting collaboration, which charts the glittering rise and ultimate demise of Eva Peron against the changing political and social landscape of Argentina is given a stylish revival by Ben Kenwright and Bob Tomson. Currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre, this slick and entertaining production gives full voice not only to the wonderful music, but also to the ambiguities and complexities of the story and characters.
Emma Hatton was masterful in the title role: her young, brassy, Eva didn’t wholly convince (to my mind exuding too much British enthusiasm rather than Latin American passion), but the transformation of exuberance into determination and realism as Eva enters the public and political sphere was beautifully done, as was her sympathetic portrayal of Eva’s ultimate fragility and vulnerability. Her voice was very well-equipped for the range required by the role: she was impressive in the big numbers (“Don’t cry for me Argentina” “Rainbow High”), but probably at her best in the final tunes (including the intelligently under-staged “You must love me”). Bill Deamer’s witty choreography was a delight - particularly successful were Argentina’s aristocratic ladies, to whose tune Eva refused to dance. Kevin Stephen-Jones was very well-cast as Peron, perfectly capturing the stature and presence of the powerful statesman, but also exhibiting a convincing humanity.
The lovely rendition of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” by Sarah O’Connor, as Peron’s abandoned mistress, deserves particular mention, as does the lighting by Tim Oliver. The relative intimacy of the Phoenix Theatre generally worked well, giving immediacy to the interplay between the audience and Che, the marauding commentator providing the voice of cynicism undercutting the Peron’s theatricals. Gian Marco Schiaretti was a handsome and engaging – if, perhaps inevitably, a little hammy – Che, with a voice well-suited to the part. There were only a few occasions where the drama would have benefitted from an increase in sheer scale and numbers. Definitely worth seeing during its short stay in the West End.
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