Friday, 5 September 2014

Review: The Return of the Soldier at the Jermyn Street Theatre

The Return of the Soldier 
Jermyn Street Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 4th September 2014

Anyone who says, "They don't make musicals any more like they used to" needs to book tickets to see The Return of the Soldier by Tim Sanders and Charles Miller. 

Based on Rebecca West's 1918 novel, the show tells the story of Captain Christopher Baldry who returns from World War I with shell shock, unable to remember the last ten years of his life. Consequently he can't even remember his wife and instead thinks he loves Margaret Grey who in now remarried - not the most straightforward of situations, but the perfect story to create an interesting piece of theatre.

Miller's score has a timeless sound with varied influences. Dare I mention there are even occasional glimmers of Lord Lloyd Webber and, the God of musical theatre, Mr Sondheim. The piece isn't yet polished, but perfect casting allows it to flow. Stewart Clarke is unrecognisable in the lead role. His vocals are incredible whilst he acts the part well, showcasing tremendous versatility! Stand out performances also come from the two loves of Christopher's life - Zoe Rainey (Kitty Baldry) and Laura Pitt-Pulford (Margaret Grey). Neither put a foot wrong.

The Jermyn Street Theatre makes the perfect home for this delicate piece of theatre. The intimacy left me utterly captivated, rarely did I lose interest or become restless. Only during the final scenes does the score prevent the story from progressing to its final conclusion; however, perhaps it only felt like this as I was so eager to find out what was going to happen! 

What makes The Return of the Soldier so fascinating is that is is hard to know who to sympathise with! Both the characters and audience face tough decisions. I absolutely love new writing and it is refreshing to see Aria Entertainment and Guy James taking a risk and staging something so different. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Return of the Soldier runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre until Saturday 20th September 2014. Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

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