Assassins

Alone in a sixth-floor storeroom, will Lee Harvey Oswald use his gun to kill John F. Kennedy, or will he use it to kill himself? Styled as a gruesome gameshow ran by the enigmatic Proprietor and his Carol Vordeman, the Balladeer, the participants each get one chance to shoot the president and change the world - and now it’s Lee’s turn. Sondheim's famous musical is a series of character portraits of the men and women who have killed (or tried to kill) presidents of the United States. By personifying the gallery of presidential assassins the musical invites us to think about what causes personal motivation - with some great tunes along the way, of course.The audience is greeted by an enormous tableaux of assassinated presidents laid out on either side of the stage live a hall of fame in Madame Taussauds and making it clear immidiatly that this is to be a lavish production. Making good use of its glamorous ballroom location the set features life-size portrait frames, giant mirrors, barbed-wire fences and a projection screen while the costumes have been carefully chosen and helped the characterisation a lot. An already-large cast is fleshed out with an charming ensemble of various ages, although their youth means the choreography is severely limited by a need to be remembered easily. The quality of singing and acting is good throughout. The actress playing Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme certainly rose to the challenge posed in her name, and brought out the humorous side of her character beautifully.A major flaw is to be found in the echo of the space. The cast failed to compensate properly for the blurring and loss of consonants caused by the high ceilings and stone walls and in consequence the audience was constantly straining to hear what was being said and sung. For the couple sitting next to me, the effort needed to follow the complicated story-line was just too much, making them loose interest entirely and spend the whole musical making out. This is a four-star production of a five-star musical, but the audibility issues mean I can’t justify a higher accolade than three.

Reviews by James T. Harding

Pleasance Courtyard

Creatives

★★
Bedlam Theatre

The Duck Pond

★★★★★

The Blurb

This acclaimed musical theatre group ('Oh! What a Lovely War' ***** in ThreeWeeks) returns with Sondheim's visceral take on the American Dream. Showbiz razzamatazz flirts with Presidential assassination in this darkly audacious and comically surreal musical vaudeville.