Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Review: The Lion at the St James Studio

The Lion
St James Studio
Reviewed on Thursday 21st August 2014

Very rarely does a piece of theatre jump out, grab me with both hands and completely take me by surprise. I knew very little about The Lion as I took my seat on the front row at the stunning St James Studio, other than it had transferred to London following a successful off-Broadway run.

There is not a word in the English language to describe the talents of Benjamin Scheuer who has written this one-man show in which he also stars. On paper a show starring one man and six guitars may sound underwhelming, but Scheuer takes the audience on a journey of a lifetime. He is a magnificent actor, singer, musician and writer. 

At first The Lion seems nice and easy going. The modern tones are smooth and easy to listen to; I sat tapping my foot, feeling almost as if I was watching a concert rather than a musical.

Suddenly out of nowhere The Lion evolves into an inspirational yet honest and heartbreaking story of love, loss and survival which turned me into an absolute emotional wreck. After the first five minutes I would never have guessed the show would progress to explore issues surrounding death, cancer and relationships so deeply.

The easy going nature of the show's opening cleverly drew me in and allowed me to emotionally invest later on. Scheuer's writing and performance is naturally funny and charming, he is easy to relate to.

As the piece takes a darker turn Scheuer never loses the humour - one minute I was crying and the next I was laughing through my tears. The entire show is absolutely extraordinary and I was left utterly speechless; I did not know what to do with myself. 

The Lion runs for just over an hour, but I completely lost all awareness of time and where I was. I have never experienced anything like it! The Lion is certainly the most incredible one-man show I have ever seen and Scheuer deserves to have awards coming out of his ears.

If there is one show which deserves to be sold out night after night it is The Lion. If you're open minded and willing to emotionally invest in something new which dares to be different, go and see The Lion. It is a compellingly enthralling piece of theatre which proves new writing isn’t losing its spark after all. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Lion runs at the St James Studio until Sunday 7th September 2014.
Please visit www.stjamestheatre.co.uk for further information and tickets. 

Photo Credit: Bronwen Sharp

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