Skip to main content

Miss Saigon

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Four stars

There are two devastating moments in this Cameron Mackintosh-produced touring revival of composer Claude-Michel Schonberg and lyricist Alain Boublil’s Madame Butterfly inspired musical epic that charts the human fallout of the Vietnam War. Three if you count the tellingly unhappy ending. The first comes at the start of the second act, with the use of film footage of Vietnamese street children conceived by American fathers. Accompanied onstage by a group of the play’s statesman-like ex-servicemen singing their hearts out to assuage their guilt, the scene has a similar power to the sort of overblown 1980s charity record it resembles.

The second moment comes when Kim, the young Vietnamese woman who fell for brooding GI Chris three years before, bearing their son in his absence, meets Chris’ American wife, Ellen. Touchingly played by Sooha Kim and Zoe Doano, for a few minutes they are the only two people onstage. It’s a rare moment of intimacy among the busy streams of khaki-clad soldiers and scantily-dressed female employees of the glitzy Saigon brothel run by the big-talking sleaze-ball known only as The Engineer. It is here that Kim and Chris’ fate is sealed in a way that reflects the real-life experience of thousands.

Director Laurence Connor’s surprisingly bombast-free production serves up a fluid staging of a grown-up musical that captures America’s uneasy relationship with Vietnam. Magnificently performed and staged as it is, it is riddled with similar contradictions. Both Chris and Kim are too good to be true. As played by Ashley Gilmour, he’s deep as well as macho, literally a white knight saving the innocent princess from Red Concepcion’s evil Engineer. Even though none of the male characters are remotely likeable, the result remains an astonishing depiction of an unnecessary mess that still leaves its tragic mark.

The Herald, January 22nd 2018


ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Carla Lane – The Liver Birds, Mersey Beat and Counter Cultural Performance Poetry

Last week's sad passing of TV sit-com writer Carla Lane aged 87 marks another nail in the coffin of what many regard as a golden era of TV comedy. It was an era rooted in overly-bright living room sets where everyday plays for today were acted out in front of a live audience in a way that happens differently today. If Lane had been starting out now, chances are that the middlebrow melancholy of Butterflies, in which over four series between 1978 and 1983, Wendy Craig's suburban housewife Ria flirted with the idea of committing adultery with successful businessman Leonard, would have been filmed without a laughter track and billed as a dramady. Lane's finest half-hour highlighted a confused, quietly desperate and utterly British response to the new freedoms afforded women over the previous decade as they trickled down the class system in the most genteel of ways. This may have been drawn from Lane's own not-quite free-spirited quest for adventure as she moved through h