Malvern Theatre, Malvern – until 9 April 2016
The story of Judy Garland is well documented and the tragedy of her glory days spiralling downwards at the mercy of pills and alcohol is no secret. The play (by Peter Quilter) covers the period of time leading to Judy’s death at the age of 47 years old and shows her at her worst.
About to embark upon a six week residency at Talk of the Town, London, the diva has a new beau in tow, fiancé Mickey Deans who is also her manager. Deans, played by Sam Attwater, is keen for the come-back to succeed as Garland has mounting debts, so horrendous are these debts that they are constantly dodging payment of their hotel bill this hotel is their home for the duration of their stay in London to re-launch her career. Her loyal accompanist, Anthony Chapman, played by the incomparable Gary Wilmot, is on hand to accompany her. It seems that he would prefer to support her off-stage rather than engage in the bullish behaviour demonstrated by Dean when it becomes clear that Garland is in no fit state to be continuing with life in the spotlight.
Although this is essentially a three-hander, which works well, Lisa Maxwell who plays the fallen star could easily play this as a one woman show. Her likeness to Garland is incredible, in mannerisms, speaking voice and vocals. The various numbers that we were treated to throughout the show were enough to prove that Maxwell’s capabilities are limitless and when she sang my personal favourite, The Man Who Got Away, I was moved to tears. Every nuance of Garland’s character is portrayed to amazing effect by Maxwell, she brings out the aggression, frustration and confusion, yet still injects the natural quick-witted, comedic qualities possessed by the much loved star.
The set was inspiring, it lent itself to the piece and transitions were smooth. It transported me back to the time period and there were times when it truly felt as though I had a window into a snapshot of Garland’s life.
End of the Rainbow will stay at Malvern Theatres until Saturday 9th April and the tour will continue until Saturday 25th June. For more information and to book tickets please visit: http://www.endoftherainbowtour.co.uk/
Photo courtesy of Pamela Reith.