Southwark Playhouse, London – until 8 June 2019
What is it? Based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this Celtic Musical presents a new version of a well-known story to the stage. What’s it all about? When Benjamin Button (James Marlowe) is born he is not born the way all other baby boys are born. For instead of entering the world screaming and crying for milk, Benjamin Button emerges an old man of 70, wanting nothing more than a nice cup of tea.
His parents, ashamed of what they have brought into the world, lock Benjamin in the attic of their house in Cornwall, and so begins his unconventional journey. After his mother (Rosalind Ford) commits suicide unable to handle the guilt and lack of understanding of the “child” she has given birth to, Benjamin begins to sneak out to the Pickled Crab, the local pub in which he meets the love of his life Elowen Keene (Philippa Hogg).
As time moves forward, Benjamin seems to get younger, and explains his love for the younger Elowen to his father (Joey Hickman). But his father only chastises him, so Benjamin decides to leave town with Elowen instead, except he can’t find her. If only he knew that Elowen was out looking for him too.
As years pass without each other, the star crossed lovers meet again. Only this time things are different. It is the war that separates the pair this time around, but, like all great epics, their love seems to know no bounds and it is not the fact that the two aren’t happy and in love that is the problem, but the mystery of Benjamins condition and his need to understand it.
How did it make me feel? Wow. This show is truly mesmerising. Musically uplifting, its Celtic tones are emotive and exciting in a completely charming way. Setting the story in Cornwall, director and producer Jethro Compton (who has also written the show with Darren Clark) has created a familiar and engaging story that is easily relatable and comforting. The cast is stellar, with all playing at least one instrument (although most play at least two), and while singing in gorgeous harmonies that truly take the show to another level.
All cast members deserve equal recognition because they are all truly incredible. However it is especially important to mention both Hogg and Ford who both play, among other characters, young and older versions of Elowen. Stunning vocals and unique interpretations of the character blend together to create something magical, both in Elowen’s spirit and strength.
Joey Hickman also brings a uniqueness to every single character he plays, and his out of this world energy keeps the pace of the show moving forward perfectly. This is an ensemble show like I have never seen, and all the creative elements bring together a truly incredible experience.
Where Is It Playing? Southwark Playhouse’s Little Theatre is an intimate setting for such an epic journey, as the inventiveness of the set is fantastic, never allowing the audience to miss a thing. Anything Else? It is a rare thing to experience a new musical like this one. Intimate and lively, it is one that will definitely stay with you long after you have left the theatre and will have you quietly hoping that the cast album will be released very soon. Amy x The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is playing at Southwark Playhouse until the 8th June 2019. If you like my reviews and want to support this blog feel free to buy me a virtual coffee here!