‘Powerfully moving’: CAROLINE, OR CHANGE – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

Playhouse Theatre, London – until 6 April 2019

For the assiduous theatregoer, this is the third opportunity to catch this stirring Chichester Festival Theatre production of Caroline, or Change. From its original run at the Minerva last year to the Hampstead Theatre this spring, this idiosyncratic musical now arrives in the West End in the relative intimacy of the Playhouse Theatre.

And it is an intimacy that is needed to draw you into the true shape of Michael Longhurst’s production – to be confronted with that Confederate statue, the sweltering isolation of that basement, the knots of tension on furrowed brows. The winds of change may be starting to blow across the US of the early 1960s but here in this Louisiana household, societal change has yet to filter down to the individual.

It’s a work that almost defies explanation. Jeanine Tesori’s eclectic score binds together elements of gospel, soul, and blues with Motown harmonies and operatic tension. And Tony Kushner’s book weaves fantastical strands (Caroline’s appliances all sing with her) with hard-hitting tragedy as race and class fall under the microscope.

Longhurst’s production captures all of these contradictions beautifully, the revolve of Fly Davis’ design full of tragic momentum. And though there have been some changes in the supporting cast, there’s outstanding work from Ako Mitchell, Naana Agyei-Ampadu and Aaron Gelkoff (at this performance) as Noah. Powerfully moving and a positive presence in the West End.

 

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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