10:37 | 19th February 2019

Reviews: Live Shows

Mon 5 Aug, 2013
By Robert Ingham

Hairs stand up on the back of your neck as the music swells and the cast come on stage

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Titanic - Review - MUST SEE!!

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"You Hold Our Souls In The Palm of Your Hands..."

Something exquisite has docked at Southwark Playhouse. Titanic, the Musical, currently in production at this intimate theatre is a tour de force, re-telling the story of the maiden and final voyage of the most well-known and documented “Ship of Dreams”.

Effectively staged on a thrust, the audience are immediately transported on deck and are so close to the cast you can see every minute detail and slight movement and you feel as if you are a passenger yourself.

This is a spectacular show – full of emotion, incredible acting, great direction, wonderful songs and script, and a hugely competent cast. My companion went as far as calling it majestic. That is indeed what it is. From the moment the music begins, you are swept away by the beautiful score from a six-strong band who still manage to sound like a full orchestra. Hairs stand up on the back of your neck as the music swells and the cast come on stage to sing the opening numbers. And what an opening! I cannot recall for many years an opening number that not only captivated from the first note, but also brought tears of joy and amazement to an entire audience. The cast of 20 sound double their number and the wall of sound is terrific.

From here on in, we are introduced to each member of the ship, whether crew or passenger, from first to third class and engineers. It can be fair to say that the first act is rather long, with 14 songs, but the pace belts along heartedly, reflecting Ismay’s orders to increase the ship’s speed as the act unfolds.

There are some stand-out songs in this act, most notably “Lady’s Maid” which brings the third class passengers together as they tell of their dreams when they reach America, led by Kate McGowan (wonderfully played by Victoria Serra who not only is extremely beautiful but has a voice to match). Some of the Irish accents may be a fraction questionable but that would really be knit-picking as the cast give everything they have and create a believable and riveting world.

This is an excellent production, with gorgeous performances from Judith Street and Dudley Rogers, playing the elderly couple, Ida and Isidor Straus, who will not part from each other, even though they know their fate. From Leo Miles as expressive Fleet, James Hume as suave Etches and Claire Marlowe as the sophisticated Caroline Neville to Matthew Crowe’s subtle and nuanced Bride, this is one show you should not miss.

However one performance stood out above everyone. Celia Graham who plays Alice Beane, a second class passenger whose dream is to rub shoulders with first class is a complete pleasure to watch. Her song, where she introduces all those arriving in first class is not only a masterclass in clarity but also leaves you breathless at the speed it is given. There is something reminiscent of Bernadette Peters with Celia.

The second act, unfortunately, doesn’t have the same impact or punchiness as the first act. The score and script are not as strong, but this should not deter anyone from seeing this glorious production which will have you on your feet with the rest of the audience, moved and knowing you have seen one of the best theatre productions in a long time.

Titanic is on at the Southwark Playhouse until 31st August. An absolute must-see!


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