Carrie The Musical: There's Life In The Old Girl Yet
Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆
High School Musical. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Matilda. Elephant and Castle.
Unlikely as it may seem, the above quadrumvirate is finding a happy home in Southwark Playhouse as Carrie: The Musical — the story of an outcast teenage girl who finds she has telekinetic powers while dealing with cruel classmates and a fanatic mother — finally makes a London reincarnation after dying a bloody death when it first came to stage in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1988.
It may have taken a beating in England, and its bruised and battered body pummelled further into the ground after a disastrous Broadway transfer (reportedly losing $8m in the process), but there is life in the old girl yet.
Young woman, actually, as it is Evelyn Hoskins as the hunched, shuffled and quiveringly awkward Carrie who really gets the blood flowing. She leads an ensemble cast bursting with energy, sass and attitude. But where her gutsy peers are buoyantly ruffled in full bloom, Carrie is the withered sunflower standing alone. Her wide-eyed stares may bely helplessness, but Hoskins’s accomplished balance of innocence and intent plants a much more sinister seed. Like that creepy doll in your aunt’s house that seems to watch you, you know there’s more than meets the eye.
The production is largely true to the Stephen King novel it's based on, with the jaunty addition of singing and dancing of course. And by gosh, there is a lot of singing and dancing. If you’re not a fan of musical theatre you may find this a painful two hours — but anyone who appreciates a good belter will be tapping along in no time. There’s a lot of talent in the room — not a single bum note was heard — although the production is missing a take-home song. There are no Defying Gravitys or Time Warps here.
So too, a couple of the songs feel like quick-change fillers rather than worthy set pieces. But it's hard to resist both the talent and sheer animation of the cast, and the small Southwark Playhouse theatre was packed to the rafters with energy. Cruelty too. And pretty soon, a whole lot of blood.
Poor Carrie has had to go through a lot, but she lives on. And this time, we think she can stave off theatrical death for a little while longer.
Carrie: The Musical runs at Southwark Playhouse until 30 May. Tickets cost £22/£18 and can be booked online via the Southwark Playhouse website. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary review ticket.
Last Updated 09 May 2015