Wednesday, 12 March 2014

'The A-Z of Mrs P' Southwark Playhouse ***

There has been an array of intriguing moments within the history of London maps. First of all we have to think about Harry Beck's illustrious Tube Map, that helped many of its commuters and tourists find their way around the fella the world’s first underground railway. The A-Z has been an icon of Britain too. Even though we value this as a chunky paperback, it enables you to find anywhere in London without getting confused. The A-Z map was founded by the slightly eccentric Phyllis Pearshall, the portrait artist who decided to create it after getting lost on her journey to a dinner party. Phyllis's life has been full of disasters. The marriage between her mother and father was often fraught. Her dad, who was a Hungarian immigrant who created a cartographic business and her mum who's Irish finally paid the price for her alcoholism and passed away in a lunatic asylum. She abandoned her husband, Vladimir Nabokov in Venice and worst of all during 1945 she was a passenger in a vile plane crash that left her somewhat paralysed for the foreseeable future. Their lyrics and composition by Gwyneth Herbert and Diana Samuels, who acted as co-writers definitely penned a lot of interesting and somewhat mesmerising material for the audience. Paradoxically, there are the occasional flaws with such an emerging musical such as this with the overwhelming repetition of songs. Obvious and unnecessary reprises I might add. I found the design for ‘The A-Z of Mrs P’ to be exceptional and particularly luxurious through the conceptual realisation of suspended objects such as; suitcases, chairs, postcards, street signs etc. Klara Zieglerova has done herself justice here. The performance by Isy Suittie as the slightly troubled Mrs P is outstanding and the opening number “Best Foot Forward” I thought it was somewhat charming and peaceful. Unfortunately the writers’ seem to focus to the shows energy onto Mrs P's parents, even though they were wonderfully conveyed by Frances Ruffelle and Michael Matus but this possess a challenge and a hindrance as there’s far too much going on to fully engage with, and to understand a characters journey and circumstances. On the other hand, the musical numbers still ensure that the production still engage with an audience and as I've never been to the Southwark Playhouse before it has made me want to go and see even more emerging work here. I was welcomed by the press officer for this venue which inevitably made it a pleasant experience. I would like to congratulate everyone involved here and good luck with its progression.

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