Sunday in the Park with George

Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society have brought their leisurely afternoon stroll Sunday in the Park with George to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Well-staged and with decent performances, the production is still perhaps a bit too leisurely for its own good.

Sunday in the Park with George will go down well with Sondheim fans and will likely improve with time.

This feels like an odd thing to say as cuts have clearly been made to streamline the musical into a much shorter running time. However the first 45 minutes or so feel stodgy and it’s unclear whether it’s the result of the original script, the cuts made or tiredness of the actors that makes it difficult to connect with anything during this period.

Things do however pick up in the latter half of the musical. Suddenly, plot developments are starting to pique my interest and George, played by Andrew Room, gets a character introspection that finally allows him a wave of sympathy. Room perhaps needed to warm up a little better as some of the earlier songs seemed to get the better of him at times but this was an early performance and such things can easily be rectified.

It is Jess Peet and Sarah Mercer who power the show along. Jess Peet’s Dot is endearing and well-suited to being the emotional heart of the production, whilst Sarah Mercer displays a powerful voice in her performance as both Old Lady and Freida. Her performance of the song Beautiful lives up to its name and it is at this point that the show really kicks into gear.

The multiple role playing was confusing at times, particularly when some actors were forced to play different characters in rapid succession without leaving the stage. More effort could have been made with costume or physicality to distinguish the actors at these points.

Sunday in the Park with George will go down well with Sondheim fans and will likely improve with time. A little more care and thought however is needed to open it up to the uninitiated.

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

'A blank page of canvas... So many possibilities'. Discover the colour, beauty and music inspired by 19th century Parisian life as you enter the world of Georges Seurat, the artist struggling to balance the demands of his mistress at his shoulder and the masterpiece in his mind. The best of Cambridge's musical theatre talent return to the Fringe with Stephen Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize winning classic and bring Seurat's much loved paintings to life as the art of making art is appreciated in this timeless musical.