Follies National Theatre, 8th September 2017 5 Stars Book Follies Tickets Folly is an interesting concept: it has fascinated the western mind all the way from Erasmus of Rotterdam’s philosphical contemplation, through the artificial landscaping constructions that adorn the estates of Stowe and Stourhead, Ermenonville and Versailles, to the variety entertainments of late 19th century Paris, and into the area which principally concerns this epic musical divertissement based upon the idea: the expensive and spectacular early 20th century Broadway revues of Florenz Ziegfeld. Oddly, a lot of time seems to have been spent worrying about whether this show, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book – or at least ‘scenes’ – by James Goldman, is ‘really’ a musical or just some kind of astonishing hybrid failure: its original producer Harold Prince dubbed it a ‘long-running flop’. While these practical questions have merit, they detract from the actual … Read more
Set firmly in the present, this version lacks languid notions about the past, does not spend too much time on the intricacies of character and prefers shock and blatant slapstick to more gentle ways of making points. There is little sense of old versus new Russia, little sense of the changing of traditions and times and less complexity about everything. But it is radiantly bleak, full of brittle, awful people leading duplicitous and untruthful lives. In that way, it is a compelling re-imagining of Chekhov’s masterpiece.