Friday, 10 April 2015

Jesus Christ Superstar

Edinburgh Playhouse
Three stars

When the giant halo cum crown that's been hanging above the stage since the start of this latest touring revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1971 musical starts to slowly descend midway through the second act, it looks less like symbolism and more like a spaceship beaming down to earth. Up until then Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright's production has been a hit and miss compendium of once self-consciously groovy happy-clappy numbers such as What's The Buzz and the appealingly evergreen strains of Everything's Alright and I Don't Know How To Love Him, all good songs if here sounding somewhat strained in their delivery.

This soundtracks what here looks like a celestial bromance between Glenn Carter's Jesus Christ and Tim Rogers as Judas Iscariot. Both of the leads are in fine form, even if any revolutionary tendencies Jesus might have are muted by an angelic image offset by both Rogers and a surprisingly nasty Pontious Pilate as played by Jonathan Tweedie, stepping in for an indisposed Rhydian Roberts. Beyond that, however, some of the show's darker moments look lifted from 1970s Hammer horror, while an oddly flat ending follows a laborious crucifixion scene, despite the subsequent resurrection.

While many of the numbers now sound dated rather than retro-cool, the real saviour of the show comes in the form of the still mighty title song, an epic purloined and co-opted so spectacularly years ago by Robbie Williams – and there's a man with a messiah complex if ever there was one – for Let Me Entertain You. Here, however, there is a modicum of choral subtlety beyond the bombast in a once iconic creation that now seems to have lost its beatific sheen.
 
The Herald, April 10th 2015

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