Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the UK premiere of the Broadway musical.
The Stage: ★★★ “Joe Iconis’ songs are hit and miss; the stand out is ‘Michael in the Bathroom’, in which Jeremy’s outcasted friend reflects on his newfound loneliness, but others fade quickly in the memory. However Stephen Brackett’s production fizzes with feel-good energy and the talented ensemble proves once again that although we may not be originating many musicals this side of the pond, we can certainly perform them with panache.”
The Telegraph: ★★★★ “From Dear Evan Hansen to Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, teenagers with identity issues are in danger of becoming a cliché of contemporary musical theatre. At least this rough and ready musical arrives already validated by the very teen audience it has in its sights: following a brief, poorly-received run in New Jersey it landed a slot on off-Broadway in 2018 and then transferred to Broadway proper after the soundtrack went viral on social media.”
The Guardian: ★★★★ “To watch Be More Chill is to glimpse an authentic portrait of the soaring joys and plunging agonies of adolescence.”
LondonTheatre1: ★★★★ “I suppose there’s a reason for having yet another show that reaches out to those who have simply wanted to belong, to be accepted, to be loved – it’s highly relatable to many people, who at some point or other may have felt lonely and/or unloved. Popularity has its benefits (y’know, like box office receipts for the production) but it isn’t the only important thing in life. As far as the music goes, I didn’t have any of the tunes in my head on the Tube home.”
Evening Standard: ★★ “It’s easy to see why the bleepy bloopy soundtrack is so popular: consolatory lyrics like “I don’t wanna be special, I just wanna survive” are Tumblr blog gold. But the appeal doesn’t feel much broader than that, each song goes on forever, and the show lapses into solipsism and cliched messages (conformity is bad, guys, don’t ditch your mates for the cool people, etc).”
Broadway World: ★★★★ “Iconis’ score is a blend of pop and rock with electronic infusions. It’s easy to see why the musical quickly turned into a beloved piece of theatre: catchy tunes and relatable lyrics are matched to extravagant characters who are garish and loud in all the right places, but know how to connect with their audience on an empathetic level. They want nothing more than to be accepted and validated.”
Musical Theatre Review: ★★ “But overall, it’s the tone of the story which mutes the primary colour-laden musical. From the bullying of Jeremy, to the microchip telling him that what he really needs is to be heteronormatively masculine in a particularly toxic way, everything is both so catastrophically predictable and unpleasantly extreme that it becomes hard to root for the hero at all.”
Theatre Weekly: ★★★★★ “At its core, Be More Chill is a profoundly meaningful commentary on youth culture, but perhaps more importantly, is incredibly good fun, with just enough comedy elements not to distract from a superb score and capable cast.”
Time Out: ★★★ “Dear Evan Hansen and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie are proof that you can make musicals about teenage boys that are smart and subtle; Be More Chill is not an innovative addition to the crowded canon of male coming-of-age stories. But its saving grace is its willingness to have fun. It feels a bit like a high school play, in a good way: in-jokes, visual gags, messy hormone-fuelled energy that sweeps you into its weirdly retro world.”
Be More Chill will play at The Other Palace until 14 June 2020.