Director Jamie Lloyd reimagines Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice's musical Evita at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London. August 2019. © Marc Brenner

‘Jamie Lloyd is unleashing a torrent of creative genius’: EVITA – Open Air Theatre

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

Open Air Theatre, London – until 21 September 2019

“I could find job satisfaction in Paraguay”… If this was the production of Evita that was forever touring the UK, then we could all be a hell of a lot more enthused about the future of UK theatre. Bill Kenwright might have the business side locked down with dull predictability, but at the Open Air Theatre, Jamie Lloyd is unleashing a torrent of creative genius which proves inordinately exciting to witness.

He offers up a complete reimagining of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical and one which feels sparkingly fresh in every single aspect. The open bleachers of Soutra Gilmour’s design which turns our focus to the human relationships here, the striking physicality of Fabian Aloise’s choreography with its haunting screaming faces and way-cool domino effect points to societal trauma and most crucially, Lloyd allows the shadow of populist politics to loom large.

So Samantha Pauly’s thoroughly contemporary Eva is unafraid to let the rougher edges of her youthful confidence show – the way ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ is undercut is a masterclass in insincerity akin to Donald Trump’s autocue reading. And when she meets her partner in ruthless ambition – a superb Ektor Rivera as Juan Perón – there’s a chilling effectiveness to their work. ‘A New Argentina’ becomes a full-on political rally, a riot of albiceleste tickertape and smoke cannons.

The production never lets us forget the humanity in the story though, whether the faces of the disappeared half-visible in the shadows, spurned lovers unable to escape the sidelines, or Trent Saunders’ put-upon Che (give the man a blanket!). And wisely steering clear of sentimentality, Pauly skilfully fleshes out character in a way that feel utterly convincing and more truthful than ever before.

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Marc Brenner
Evita is booking at the Open Air Theatre until 21st September
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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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