Reviewed on Wednesday 8th June 2016
Michael Crawford has returned to the West End in Richard Taylor and David Wood's musical version of L.P. Hartley's novel The Go-Between. Crawford plays an older version of the central character Leo Colston who retells the story of when he was acting as the go-between messenger for Marian and the local farmer Ted who were having a passionate affair, despite Marian being engaged.
I must admit, it's nice to seeing something in the West End that takes some stylistic risks - the staging is simple and only small adjustments are made to the set throughout. The Go-Between is a nice, quaint musical with some enjoyable moments, but ultimately the piece falls flat. Roger Haines' production doesn't take the audience from extreme highs to extreme lows, instead everything feels very samey which leads to the pace dragging.
It's thrilling to see Crawford back in the West End, where he has previously starred in everything from Barnum to The Phantom of the Opera and, most recently, The Wizard of Oz. His vocals are heartwarming. Crawford is very active throughout the piece; he rarely leaves the stage and hardly even sits down - it's a hugely demanding role and Crawford seems to be in his element.
The young actors I saw, William Thompson as Leo and Archie Stevens as Marcus, both did a stellar job whilst Gemma Sutton and Stuart Ward are strong as Marian and Ted. Sutton particularly stands out as she soars into her soprano range - having recently starred as Louise in Gypsy, Sutton's new role couldn't be any more different. She's a versatile talent.
The Go-Between is an enjoyable musical, but doesn't quite feel ready for the West End. There are some nice creative elements, but ultimately it's slow in places and lacks excitement. Perhaps it would work more successfully in one of London's thriving off-West End venues.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
The Go-Between runs at the Apollo Theatre until 15th October 2016.
Click here to book tickets.
Photo Credit: Johan Persson