The Bridges Of Madison County: Sweet Romance At The Menier Chocolate Factory

The Bridges of Madison County, Menier Chocolate Factory ★★★★☆

The Bridges Of Madison County: Sweet Romance At The Menier Chocolate Factory The Bridges of Madison County, Menier Chocolate Factory 4
Photo: Johan Persson

A restless farmwife in Iowa is swept off her feet by a hunky out-of-town photographer who strolls into her kitchen. The theme of The Bridges of Madison County might be as old as they come, but the book-turned-film-turned-musical is anything but a stale tale under the direction of Trevor Nunn and with a lovely, believable pairing at its heart.

Photo: Johan Persson

Italian émigré and mum-of-two Francesca (Jenna Russell) feels the romance draining from her while married to provincial Bud. While the family’s away from home, she falls into temptation after a chance meeting with travelling snapper Robert (Edward Baker-Duly) — a man who sings of being ‘Temporarily Lost’.

Photo: Johan Persson

A will-they-won’t-they story at risk of being too gentle even for midsummer is instead enlivened by little details. A fridge topped with a taunting box of Corn Flakes is whizzed in behind Francesca on rails, Jon Bausor’s set working hard to contrast banal domesticity with the allure of Robert’s life on the road.

Photo: Johan Persson

Act two sees the show coming to terms with its patchy source material; the characters undergoing transformations that stretch credibility, and being rather dragged through events as a result. Nunn’s antidote to cliché is to embrace it — with a surprising double entendre here; a floor-stomping rodeo number there (‘State Road 21’). And happily, the orchestra proves sharper than a cowboy’s spurs.

The Bridges of Madison County, Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU. Tickets £25-£57.50, until 14 September 2019.

Last Updated 24 July 2019