MUSICAL REVIEW: Falsettos ★★★
The Other Palace, London
Friday 30th August - Saturday 23rd November 2019
Falsettos, with Music, Book & Lyrics by William Finn, is a humourous, often relatable musical surrounding a dysfunctional family, consisting of Marvin (Daniel Boys), Trina (Laura Pitt-Pulford) and son Jason, who in this performance was brought to life by George Kennedy, giving his West End Debut in this production.
With Joel Montague and Oliver Savile completing the cast as Mandel and Whizzer, the lyrics are interwoven into the story in a way that there's never really a moment of silence on stage, similar to Les Miserables or Hamilton to give some scope, and though these latter examples do well in bringing to the forefront pivotal plot points, at times throughout Falsettos, there is more of a sense that the locations are unwanted and a bit unnecessary, such as Jason's League Football team.
Though the cast are radiant on stage, especially Pitt-Pulford who gives a sensational and pitch-perfect performance of 'Im Breaking Down', the inclusion of neighbours Charlotte (Gemma Knight-Jones) and Cordelia (Natasha Barnes) are completely underused and poorly written into the production. When they are introduced within the opening moments of Act Two, which takes place two years after the Act One, it's a real breath of new air to the stage, with the conscience and vibrant costume designed PJ McEvoy fitting perfectly set against the chess board / black and white themed set, but characteristically don't seem to develop much further, which is a real shame considering the energy shown glowing on stage.
Finn's music and lyrics also seem to deteriorate coming into the climax of the piece; though set against the height of the AIDS pandemic, this is only briefly hinted at early on before chaos erupts unpredictably in the latter moments of the second act; it's hard to understand how this musical could juxtaposition and take a sheer drop in excitement so fast, with the audience almost curling up with unease and a bitter taste left in the mouth as the lights fade and the story draws to a close.
Overall, Falsettos gives off a promising feel which excels with a flamboyant and energetic cast who truly believe in their characters, but sadly the lack of development and intrigue with the latter introductions and excitement within the family dynamic leaves you thinking hard to understand how such a mundane setting could be such a success previously.