Angela's Ashes - The Musical: A Slow Burn In Croydon

Angela’s Ashes, Ashcroft Theatre ★★★★☆

Sophia Shluger
By Sophia Shluger Last edited 25 months ago

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Angela's Ashes - The Musical: A Slow Burn In Croydon Angela’s Ashes, Ashcroft Theatre 4
Photo: Pat Redmond

Just in time for Halloween comes a tale with a body count to rival that of horror movies. Known for ‘nothing here but rain and consumption,’ this true Limerick story follows the McCourt family’s hardships. Frankie’s (Eoin Cannon) mother Angela (Jacinta Whyte) has lost the marital lottery to ‘Northerner’ Malachy (Marty Maguire) whose alcoholism leads his family into abject destitution.

This UK premiere is served up well as a musical. Irish songs effectively offset pervasive and recurring sickness, hunger, addiction and death themes.

Photo: Pat Redmond

There’s a bit on a ‘miserable Irish Catholic childhood,’ some forbidden teenage love and even a character named Quasimodo with a prominent hump. Punchy dialogue with sporadic humour via witty one-liners create hope. Act I’s muddled plotline and lack of the foreshadowing typically spoon fed to musical audiences make it difficult to sustain interest in all the suffering. It’s intentional however; indigence is exhausting.

Strong acting, stunning lighting and set design are highlights; characters dramatically disappear into shadows and fog while a flowing set transforms the stage convincingly from home to ship in port.

Photo: Pat Redmond

An awkward chair dance aside, artistic choices are well placed, such as the dramatic unfolding of a blanket signifying death. In Act II the dramatic tension reaches a height with a climax and resolution. Overall a strong performance though it’s a piety there isn’t more religious drama.

Angela’s Ashes, Ashcroft Theatre, Fairfield Halls, Croydon, CR9 1DG. Tickets £15-43.50, until 5 October 2019.

Last Updated 27 September 2019