If you want an exquisite, beautifully conceived piece of musical theatre which successfully evokes a particular historical period, tells a fabulous story full of twists and surprises, and which contains some achingly ethereal and enjoyable music, then go see The Return Of The Soldier while you can.
The trouble is that it has no really coherent purpose, no through line and very little heart. Snatches of conversations out of context build a general picture of confusion, miscommunication, distrust and misunderstanding, but there is nothing insightful here.
Eve Best might not be the greatest actress to have played Cleopatra, or the one with the greatest voice. But she created an indelible, voraciously sexual, politically infantile Queen of Egypt which will haunt the memory for years to come.
Whatever people may say, Guys and Dolls is not foolproof. It can be done very badly. This is not one of those occasions…You would be silly to miss seeing their wonderful, world class performances.
As a whole experience, this was the equivalent of the local school end-of-year concert. If you were friendly and forgiving, you could have a good time. If you were expecting a professional concert of Cole Porter music, you were mostly disappointed and likely to be fleeing home at interval.
Get in at the ground level – see Lady Celeste now before she is propelled into the stratosphere. It’s always good to say “I was there when it started”. And make no mistake – Lady Celeste will take off. She is a true theatrical treat. Beautiful, sublime and dripping in style.
It’s poetic and achingly sad in some moments, stupidly silly in others. But it has a resonant and vibrant pulse which throbs louder and truer now than it did when the play first premiered.
This is the kind of production which would be a cause célèbre at Edinburgh. It’s not perfect, but it is performed and directed with passion, skill and true commitment. Go see a star in the making in a musical in the making – that’s what Fringe Festivals are for after all.