Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Book: James Lapine
Director: Gareth Mattey
Reviewer: John Roberts
“White, a blank page or canvas. The challenge bring order to the whole, through design, composition, balance, light, and harmony.”
The opening lines to Sondheim’s musical inspired by the painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, gives any future productions a rather strong guide on what they need to do, a shame that The Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society under the woefully painful and dreary direction of Gareth Mattey should have taken on board.
The canvas of this production is lacking in the detail that made the painting of Seurat so powerful. The production is a muddled mess of confused direction and movement and little touches like using modern bottles of Becks and plastic Ikea stools irk throughout.
Balance is missing throughout, inconsistent performances which see’s performers either go sharp or incredibly flat trying to sing Sondheim’s incredibly complex musical numbers (well there goes the harmony) likewise the four piece band also struggle to keep up with the demands of the score.
I just wish that when companies choose to perform Sondheim they understand that it needs performers who are more than capable of pulling of the material with aplomb, any weakness’s show up far more brutally than with any other composer. However Jess Peet as Dot stands out head and shoulders above her weak and bland company (well at least they understand the blank part of the opening line.)
Summing up this production of Sunday in the Park with George using more lyrics from the show itself. “It has no presence… No passion… No life.”
Runs until 25th August