Review: Beyond the Barricade, Edinburgh Playhouse

Beyond the Barricade

Beyond the Barricade

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ON the homepage of the Beyond the Barricade web-site the cast are seen posing in front of a large picture of an ocean liner.

**

This is a strange choice, as it reinforces the notion that this light cabaret of songs from popular musicals might be more at home on a cruise ship than the splendour of the Edinburgh Playhouse.

Andy Reiss and David Fawcett created Beyond the Barricade back in 1996, having met while performing in a production of Les Miserables. The show has since toured extensively, building a loyal fanbase across the UK.

However, one look at the stage confirms that this is not a lavish musical theatre production. The sparse set consists of just a drumkit, a couple of keyboards and what looks like a PowerPoint presentation on a background screen. Costume changes are minimal and there is no chorus line for some much-needed pizzazz.

Of course, the producers would argue that shows like this are all about the songs, and on that front there is no doubt that it delivers. Fawcett and Reiss are joined by Rebecca Vere and Katie Leeming on stage, and the quality of the vocal delivery from all four performers never dips throughout.

The show opens strongly with a medley of hits from The Phantom of the Opera, and closes with a memorable selection of songs from Les Miserables.

Between these quality bookends we are taken on a whistle-stop tour of hits from many of the most popular musicals, taking in such diverse productions as Blood Brothers, Evita, and The Lion King.

However, the lack of a narrative linking the songs left the show feeling disjointed, and taken out of context the lyrics of some hits were almost laughable.

Also, the three-man band would have benefited from a few additional members to allow them to create a more professional sound.

In short, this was musical theatre with almost all sense of theatre surgically removed. After so many years on tour perhaps it is time for these excellent vocalists to lend their talents to fresher, more creative productions.