Southwark Playhouse (venue)
15 August 2019 (released)
16 August 2019
On a very wet grey night, where better to be transported than to a magical island, the jewel in the French Antilles. From the moment you enter the theatre space, you are embraced by the warmth and creativity of this production. It is a colourful tale of love loss and redemption that simply explodes in an ensemble piece that works on every level.
A group of Caribbean peasants tells the story of Ti Moune, played with confidence and soaring vocals, by Chrissie Bhima. She is saved from a huge storm and sent on a journey by the gods of the Island (Martin Cush, Jonathan Chen, Aviva Tulley and Kyle Birch). Their performances add the magic and some excellent vocals to the journey. Each has their moment in the spotlight, with such numbers as 'Mama Will Provide ' and 'The Human Heart ' almost stopping the show. She is plucked from a tree and brought up by the delightful Euralie and Ton Ton (Marie-Anna Caufour and Andre Beswick).
This Island is divided in two, the French Grand Hommes and the Peasants, two worlds that should never meet. But when Daniel has a near fatal car crash, he is saved and healed by Ti Moune. A love develops that can never come to fruition because of who they are. Their relationship adds much to the pathos of the story, and is touchingly portrayed. Daniel (Sam Tutty) plays the torn nature of this character with a sensitivity and a beautiful toned voice.
It was an excellent choice to set this production in traverse, as you are ever aware of the audience opposite. Their enjoyment adds another character, seeing the emotions on their faces is infectious. Simon Wells design adds enormously to the creativity of the storytelling . Director Lee Proud is well named, as he has conjured up a night at the theatre, that will stay with me for a very long time. His wit and clever staging, has woven all the elements of the story in a sublime way. Chris Ma's musical direction was spot on, and I imagine extremely hot, set right up in the roof of the space. With Andrew Exeter's lighting adding much to the narrative and the emotions of the piece.
This 90's Musical is a lost gem that sparkles throughout, and deserves reviving. The music by Stephen Flaherty has depth and variety, and echoes of Disney's Little Mermaid in its catchy tunes and rhythms. However, where this ultimately succeeds is in the total commitment of the entire ensemble. Their harmonies and exuberance are a sheer delight. Once, is never enough on this Island.