Even though I do become irritated that the West End, in terms of musical theatre does consist of Juke Box and stage adaptations from films, however, there are instances that you can brush this aside and actually enjoy the concept. The stage adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar’s 1988 film, ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’, accompanied with Jeffrey Lane’s translation with music and lyrics by David Yazbeck was such a delightful production, as well as with brilliant performances all round.
‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ is set in Span, 1987 where we’re familiarised with renowned TV actress, Pepa, who has just been dumped by her co-star lover, Ivan (Jérôme Pradon), as you would expect she feels incalculably rejected and broken. Ivan’s ex-wife, Lucia is still reeling that her former spouses betrayal and wants to obliterate him by sending him to a court trial for negligence. Additionally, she is distraught that her shy son, Carlos (Haydn Oakley) is about to get married to his unhappy fiancée, Marisa (Seline Hizli) and are about to be searching for a home to move into together. When Carlos and Marisa visit one of the apartments, it is in fact owned by Carlos’ father’s former partner, Pepa who has just returned from the hospital after collapsing due to unexpected morning sickness. Pepa’s friend, Candella storms into the premises as Pepa has been ignoring her calls and is asking for her reasons why. Furthermore, she is too experiencing her own difficulties with men as her boyfriend, Malik (Nuno Queinmado) is a terrorist and the police are on the look-out for him. Throughout the performance, Pepa’s helped by philosophical taxi driver (Ricardo Afonso) in talking about the rough times in which it shows there are some good men out there in the world. At the court trial we see how sleazy Ivan is as he is having another affair with Lucia’s lawyer, Paulina (Willemjin Verkaik) and we witness how his chat-up lines are positively sickening. At the finale, when Pepa is trying to prevent Lucia from shooting Ivan, she knocks her positioning and she actually fires the gun at Malik, the terrorist and within this moment, Pepa decides to tell Ivan that her is about to become a father again. Lane’s interpretation of Almodóvar’s narrative is exuberant as we can see the painful effects that men can cause women due to unfaithful actions, moreover, the musical numbers by Yazbek are blissfully charismatic; such as “It’s You”, “Island”, “My Crazy Heart” and “The View from Here”.
One found the performances by the company of, ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ to be admirably portrayed and spectacularly casted as well. Tamsin Greig is fantastic as central protagonist and TV actress, Pepa; primarily when she frequently lobs the telephone out of the window when Ivan’s messages upset and anger her and it is such a comic moment too. Haydn Gwynne is terrific as Ivan’s ex-wife, Lucia; especially at the court trial when she breaks out into song with “Invisible” about how Ivan’s desertion should be held into account and that she must be allowed to express her opinions to the court to is dismissing her claims. Anna Skellon is hilarious as Pepa’s melodramatic friend, Candella; exclusively when she shrieks at the top of her lungs about a numerous amount of things, plus the point in which she conducts her suicide attempt it shows how all of her issues with Malik has pushed her to her limits.
Bartlett Sher's direction is incredible and Ellen Kane's choreography is aweome here as they have pieced together a musical that is both humourous and emotive in a such a stylisically flawless fashion where the charaterisations and and dance sequences were executed with panache. Anthony Ward's design is fabulous as his attention to detail in capturing the Spanish ambiance was particularly vivid and well constructed by Set-Up-Scenery which was nice to observe. Overall, the experience of, 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown' was an engaging and compelling musical that comes to show that men can cause a lot of problems for the ladies.