The Lion

I had been looking forward to seeing The Lion for a long time. I was aware of Benjamin Scheuer’s autobiographical musical, but I had never had the chance to see it. This brand new production originally had its press night scheduled for May 27th, but was postponed due to illness. Being made to wait even longer to see this show meant the pressure was on the team to really deliver. To say it was worth the wait would be an understatement.

I urge everyone to grab a ticket

Taking on the role of Ben is actor-musician and brand new talent Max Alexander-Taylor. It was a masterclass performance. A one-man musical can't be easy to accomplish, but Alexander-Taylor rises to the challenge – welcoming the audience as they arrive and cheerfully encouraging all to have a good time, before taking everyone on a journey into some dark times from the character’s past. From Ben’s troubles with his father, his constant love of music through to his fight against cancer we are all swept along on a roller-coaster of emotion that we never want to end. To make the show both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time is a remarkable feat but it is thanks to Benjamin Scheuer’s incredible book – based on his real life experiences – and Alexander-Taylor’s performance that this is pulled off so well. The real Benjamin Scheuer was in attendance and gave Alexander-Taylor a standing ovation at the end – a testament to the power of his performance.

The set design by Simon Kenny is very minimal. Bare light bulbs, used in Emma Chapman’s clever lighting design, rise from the floor and hang from the ceiling. The stage itself consists of one platform, simply holding the five guitars that will be used by Alexander-Taylor throughout the story. Some of the guitars have a more direct role in the story than others – the folksy music underlying the show briefly transforms into rock and back again as Ben progresses through his tempestuous teenage years. A short while later he finds himself back on the trusty acoustic and writing funny love songs for his girlfriend. Not a single song feels out-of-place or unnecessary and a special mention should go out to Andrew Johnson’s sound design too, as the balance of instrument and vocal was perfect throughout. The audience sits on three sides. Directors Alex Stenhouse and Sean Daniels have done well to ensure that everyone feels they are having an intimate conversation with Ben as he tells his story. Looking around the auditorium there were so many tears streaming down faces during the sadder parts of the tale that it was clear how many of us felt the emotion of the piece.

The Lion is showing now in The Little at Southwark Playhouse for a very limited run prior to a mini UK tour. I urge everyone to grab a ticket. Max Alexander-Taylor will be a big name in the future and it would be a travesty to miss out on seeing him perform alone in this intimate venue.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Christopher James

57-60 Haymarket

Wonderville

★★★★
Queen Elizabeth Hall

Briefs: Bite Club

★★★
Waterloo East Theatre

A Letter to Harvey Milk - The Musical

★★★★
Southwark Playhouse

The Lion

★★★★★
King's Head Theatre Pub

All That

★★★★
Shaftesbury Theatre

Be More Chill

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Every heart is made stronger by scars.”

The Lion is a one-man folk musical telling a true story of survival. With a guitar in hand, Ben confronts his turbulent life’s journey from a rift in his childhood to his own brush with mortality. During 70 minutes of songs, monologues and virtuosic guitar playing, Ben tells an inspiring story of love, loss, despair and hope that reminds us how, even in our darkest moments, music, family and community can help us find our true voice and the strength to ‘Weather the Storm’.

This production is the first revival of Benjamin Scheuer’s Drama Desk Award-winning autobiographical show, with Max Alexander-Taylor playing the role of Ben.

“My single favourite musical of all of last year, whether on Broadway or in London.” The Stage in 2015

Important COVID-19 information

We recommend that you wear a mask while inside this venue.

Most Popular See More

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets