The very best aspect of this production is the power, energy and sheer musicality Graham Hurman brings to the score. The orchestra is sizzling, sparking musical energy through every bar of Lloyd-Webber’s rich and diverse score. There is discipline, sensuality, a real sense of tribal connection and acrobatic excellence in the dancing here; it all feels fresh, precise and vigorous.
There is a marvellous scene towards the end of Act One where Walker and Gulliford share the couch, both wanting to be there but both not knowing how to negotiate a new phase in their fractured relationship. Completely different creatures, but each needing the other to be complete. It is a joy to watch.
Hutchinson has produced an unusual Christmas confection: part song, part recitation, part reminiscence and part cheeky indulgence. Using material ranging from Coward’s own diaries and writings, through Charles Dickens, Dylan Thomas and Ben Johnson to reportage and obscure/familiar (depending on your education) literary works and sprinkled with well known, popular songs, the result is a true alternative to the usual seasonal pantomime fare.
It abounds with heart and wit, is propelled with boundless energy from the three inventive actors who devised the piece, is blessed with a surprising and clever narrative which weaves its way through aspects of pretty much every popular nursery rhyme or fairytale and is genuinely laugh-out loud funny, engaging and joyful.
What is most impressive about Lloyd’s Assassins is the way it can walk the line between tragedy and farce, between opera and vaudeville, with integrity and precision. Chris Bailey’s quite wonderful choreography makes you feel exuberant and queasy at the same time. More than anything else, the emphasis here is on putting the Musical into Assassins.