Monday, 27 October 2014

'Evita' Dominion Theatre ****

Sadly, the year 2014 has not proved to be as merciful to musical theatre, with the closures of ‘From Here to Eternity’ and ‘I Can't Sing!’ Thankfully, the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical extravaganza, ‘Evita’ was one that has charmed one’s passion for the musical genre. ‘Evita’ first exploded in London's West End during 1978, and conveys the life and death of Eva Peron, the wife of the Argentinian dictator, Juan Peron. Throughout the production, the narrative is reported to the audience through a somewhat ghostly soldier, Che, who introduces us to fifteen year old Eva in 1934 where she has her first love affair with singer Agustin Magaldi whilst she’s at one of his performances. However, her flirtatious nature is revealed when Eva blackmails Magaldi in allowing her to join him when he travels to Buenos Aires, and once the two acquaint themselves with their surroundings, Eva rapidly loses interest in him, and ventures to comprehend what other men are available. Eva becomes quite successful, and her fruitfulness in enables us to be welcomed with Colonel Juan Peron, and their relationship develops especially when she moves in with Peron in 1946. As well as, Peron commences his presidential campaign at this specific moment in time, and Eva herself organises Peron’s rallies to gain support; in particular developing alliances with the Argentine army in which they would dispose of anyone who is against their quest. His bombardment proves immensely successful as he wins the presidential election in 1946. Eva seems to become self-absorbed, and insists on a glamorous image, as a mode to express the entire civilisation, and sets her sights in touring Europe. Her constant meddling begins to infuriate the army, and the generals request Peron to prevent her from doing so, but Peron protests and expresses his support to his wife. Unfortunately, she realises her health is at risk, which we learn of her cancer diagnosis, and it’s incurable, and she eventually dies at the end of the performance. Lloyd Webber and Rice’s music and lyrics continue to delight such as; “Don't Cry For Me Argentina”, “Buenos Aires” and “You Must Love Me”. One found the performances by the company of ‘Evita’ were exquisite indeed, and were characterised beautifully. Marti Pellow is gracious as the narrator of the piece; in particular when we observe his interactions with both the characters and audience. Nonetheless, one finds that Pellow is exceedingly typecast within musical theatre with the likes of ‘Blood Brothers’. Madalena Alberto is spectacular as the dictator’s wife, Eva; especially when we see her painful desire to become the Vice President during her final moments, and her vocal delivery is enormously emotive. Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright's direction is incredible as we are allowed to transport ourselves to the whirlwind of Eva Peron’s rise and fall and their spatial awareness on the Dominion stage has been well considered. Matthew Wright’s design is courteous as one thought that we are absorbed through a specific era of Argentine culture, and explains the dictatorial reign of both Juan and Eva Peron. Overall, the experience of the ‘Evita’ was exceedingly enjoyable, and well worth a visit in its final week with in the West End.

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