Charing Cross Theatre | until 6th August 2016
A musical about the sinking of the Titanic? Really?
Titanic | Review
Written by Peter Stone with music and lyrics by Maury Yestin (Grand Hotel), the musical Titanic was first produced by Danielle Tarento at the Southwark Playhouse in 2013 where it received rave reviews. It has had a recent outing in Canada and now it is back in London this time at the bigger and more central Charing Cross Theatre.
The Charing Cross Theatre doesn’t have a good reputation where musicals are concerned having seen many flops over the last couple of years, however with new artistic director Thom Southerland at the helm things are set to change – starting with this retelling of the sinking in 1912 of the luxury liner Titanic on its maiden voyage to America.
Despite the previous reviews, I did wonder whether a musical about such a horrific disaster would be of good taste, however thankfully Stone’s writing does not trivialise the catastrophe in any way.
Probably the only thing we learned from the 1997 film Titanic was there was a significant class divide between the passengers. Luckily this story of the Titanic is not dressed up in a fictional tale. The many characters are based on actual passengers and we hear about their hopes and dreams and different reasons for travelling across the Atlantic.
The Elite, the richest people in the world travel on the upper decks with their own stewards and staff, with the second class passengers looking on with curiosity and sometimes envy. Down below are the third class, many Irish immigrants, dreaming of a better life and a new start in America.
During the first act there is a lot of successful character development. It is a large cast with many characters but with Southerland’s careful direction and Cressida Carré’s inspired musical staging we soon get to know the three groups of passengers and more importantly care about them. We also meet Captain Smith, ready to retire. Andrews, the shipbuilder, proud of his creation and Mr Ismay the owner of The White Star Line, whose desire is to make RMS Titanic the fastest most efficient ship in the world. Who was too blame for the disaster that unfolded?
When the liner struck the iceberg at the end of Act 1, I was disappointed because I felt that we had only just begun to learn about these wonderful people and more importantly didn’t want this fascinating show to descend into tumultuous chaos.
The second act however surpassed the first, the act covers the last 90mins of Titanic’s voyage. Simply and sensitively staged, neither relying on special effects or gimmicks, Titanic focuses on the people, how they reacted, how they felt; the sacrifices they made and how they dealt with the inevitable.
The production does not trivialise the sinking of RMS Titanic and with a combination of incredible music, talented cast members and a remarkable story telling, this is a show that everyone must see. There are many stand out performances, but this is a piece about people and their lives, how they lived, what they dreamed, and how they’ll be remembered. It is a long time since a musical has made me cry but this poignant and enthralling masterpiece left me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Titanic the musical proves that you don’t need to write exaggerated fictional accounts using horrifying effects to retell history.
This show will stay in my mind for a long time.
Titanic will play at the Charing Cross Theatre until 6th August. I urge you to see it. For less than £40 for a top price seat, programme and bubbly you won’t get a better value show in London.
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill
Photo Credit : Annabel Vere
Booking Information | Titanic
Saturday 28 May – Saturday 6 August
Charing Cross Theatre
The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NL
Box office: 08444 930 650
Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Wednesday matinee at 2.30pm, Saturday matinee at 3.00pm
£39.50 (premium) which includes best stalls locations, a programme and a glass of bubbly
Season discounts on Premium and Stalls seats:
Buy 2 shows get 10% off
Buy 3 shows get 15% off
Buy 4 shows get 25% off – that’s 4 for the price of 3!
(discounts are only available over the phone on 08444 930 650)