Review: Les Miserables

Les Miserables. Picture: Comp
Les Miserables. Picture: Comp
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broughton high theatre

* * * *

broughton high theatre

A ticket to Les Mis on Broadway will set you back £144, while a ticket to Les Mis just down the road at Broughton High will set you back £12. So what’s the difference? Actually, less than you would imagine.

Captivate are a frisky crew of young amateurs who have captured the energy, atmosphere and attitude of the original exceptionally well.

Of course there are flaws in the production but the intimacy of the venue and commitment of the ensemble provides an experience rich in texture.

Yes, you could argue that picking up the DVD for a family night at home is just as intimate an experience but it lacks the electricity and personal connection that only live theatre can provide.

In many ways, Captivate provide a happy balance between the two. Director Sally Lyall elicits strong performances from her principals and keeps the tempo at a steady, even pace, making the two-hour 35-minute run time melt away effortlessly. Musical director Tommie Travers keeps his orchestra well in check for the most part, particularly during key scenes, but the musicians do wander in less dramatic moments.

The staging is understated and the cast use the space afforded by the austere set well, although some of the performers could do with developing the physical characteristics of their parts further.

For a young ensemble, they have an outstanding grasp of the need to interact with each other and the audience convincingly, often amateurs (both actors and musicians) are so focused on getting their own parts right, they forget to work on the chemistry between themselves and the other players on stage. It adds a layer of professionalism to the production that few other Edinburgh groups achieve.

Leading the cast, as reformed fugitive Jean Valjean, Max Reid lays down a solid vocal and stoic physical performance, his Bring Him Home and Finale reducing some in the audience to tears. Strong turns are also provided by Gordon Horne as a brooding Javert, Meg Laird-Drummond with a feisty, fragile Éponine, Rachel Coll’s despairing Fantine, Sylvia Cowie’s delightfully twisted Madame Thenardier and Zachary James Stewart’s measured Marius, his Empty Chairs at Empty Tables performed with beautiful pathos.