Hard Times Musical Adaption

Thu 3rd – Sat 12th November 2011

reviews

Alexandra Tchernakova

at 10:28 on 4th Nov 2011

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The first thing which struck me when initially walking into the venue was the theatre itself which, with low ceilings and a murky feel – in the most positive sense of the word – helped to set the tone for the gritty story to come. It felt perfect for the setting of this Charles Dickens classic.

The second thing that particularly struck me when the play actually began, was the intimacy the audience could feel with the characters in this environment, and this was strongly felt throughout, with director Sue Wilson managing to have helped the actors use the space to really make sure you are engaged within the story itself.

On mentioning the atmosphere and surroundings, I must say how impressed I was with the set and the efficiency with which it was changed between scenes. It wasn't too elaborate but just enough that you weren't lost for the setting and could also appreciate the beauty of the art within it.

It took a good few scenes to be able to be well and truly convinced by every single one of the characters (the odd smaller parts seemed to be slightly overacted at times), however, the more prominent parts such as Sissy Jupe, Mr Gradgrind, Tom and Louisa Gradgrind, Mr. Bounderby and (later on) Mr. Harthouse - who played the villain very well - proved to be strong. I especially felt the relationship between Mr. Gradgrind and Louisa really developed well through the play.

With the play being a musical adaptation, I thought the singing could have been stronger in terms of the voices blending well together. The individual solos were very strong, however, when blended with other members of the cast, certain harmonies didn't seem to quite settle.

It was a nice touch to have a couple members of the cast playing instruments in a couple of the numbers. The music throughout was well done and accurate, which ensured a smooth performance.

All in all, without doubt an enjoyable evening and the second half was unmistakably stronger than the first. Maybe, as it's the first night, some actors just needed to really get into the swing of the story. There was definitely great chemistry within the company, and if you have a spare evening, I would recommend seeing this take on a great story.

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