Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Review: Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Menier Chocolate Factory
Reviewed on Monday 1st December 2014

Assassins is probably the most intense piece of theatre ever written. Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical, which premiered off-Broadway in 1990, is dark, in your face, sometimes uncomfortable and open to interpretation. I don't think I breathed once for the entire hour and forty-five minutes.

An ensemble show like no other, Assassins sees various characters attempting to kill the president of the United States - both successfully and unsuccessfully. It is a fascinating piece (some may label it ‘alternative’, but I prefer to use the term ‘hardcore’) as you could look at it in so many different ways. I'm sure if you spoke to every single audience member about what they took away from the experience you would receive a very different answer from everyone.

As if Jamie Lloyd couldn't have had a stronger year, he is once again taking theatreland by storm with another unmissable production. It is remarkable to see one of theatre's most detailed directors working on a show by one of theatre's most detailed writers. I simply could not take in all the layers and all the depth; there is just so much to absorb. This triumphant production of Assassins is utterly mesmerising.

"I don't think I breathed once... I have never spent such an intense evening at the theatre"

There is no 'star' in the cast as everyone shines in equal measures. It was an utter privilege to see Broadway's Aaron Tveit make his London stage debut. Tveit's unique charm works a treat with this piece and his vocals impress throughout. 

Not once throughout the performance did I think 'oh there's Catherine Tate making her musical theatre debut'. Tate is a natural; she is perfectly cast in the production as she is given the opportunity to showcase her tremendous comical timing whilst introducing a whole new side to her talents which we never knew about.

Carly Bawden, Simon Lipkin and Andy Nyman particularly stand out; however, the entire cast - Mike McShane, David Roberts, Jamie Parker, Harry Morrison, Stewart Clarke, Marc Akinfolarin, Greg Miller Burns and Melle Stewart - are more than deserving of mentions.

The cast are possibly one of the strongest ensembles to ever perform on a London stage. Soutra Gilmour’s design couldn’t be more atmospheric and, under the direction of Alan Williams, the orchestra are magnificent. 

Assassins is a rarity; it has set theatreland alight – the buzz is phenomenal. I have never spent such an intense evening at the theatre and been left with so much to digest. I have already bought a ticket to go again, and if you plan on going make sure you book soon before the entire run sells out. Jamie Lloyd and the Menier Chocolate Factory strike again.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Assassins runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory until Saturday 7th March 2015.
Please visit www.menierchocolatefactory.com for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit:  Nobby Clark


  1. Couldn't have said it better myself.

  2. Astonishing production. Couldn't agree more. An abundance of satirical 'material' to digest. The score is wonderful, the players, were a treat!