Monday, 30 November 2015

Review: Desperate Measures at the Jermyn Street Theatre

Desperate Measures 
Jermyn Street Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 27th November 2015

Adapting Shakespeare's Measure For Measure into a musical is certainly an intriguing idea - themes surrounding corruption and loyalty could pave way for a punchy score - but sadly Robin Kingsland and Chris Barton's musical is far from a success story.

Despite being reimagined to the swinging sixties, Desperate Measures lacks genuine flair. The wigs and costumes are tacky whilst the story's structure is frustratingly basic, at times it felt like an episode of Scooby-Doo. The score is consistently dull; there are occasional glimmers of sincerity which are ruined by poor acting choices and staging.

The cast are mostly too young to look vaguely convincing in their various roles. I wonder if the casting team were aware they were casting a musical as not one strong vocalist took to the stage. During solo songs bad acting was used to cover up vocal limitations; the experience was rather uncomfortable. I felt like I was watching a low quality drama school performance, all involved are seemingly out of their depth.

It's alarming that a musical in such poor condition could be commissioned for a professional theatre. It was probably a mistake for Barton, the composer and lyricist, to direct the production; if the writers decide to continue work on Desperate Measures then a fresh (and ruthless) pair of eyes needs to be welcomed on board. 

Sadly in its current form Desperate Measures is disastrous; however, somewhere there is a concept with potential. I think it's time to go back to the drawing board.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Desperate Measures runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 20th December 2015.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Dee Shulman

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