Titanic at the Southwark Playhouse
In their new home in Elephant & Castle, Southwark Playhouse presents Titanic. Produced by Danielle Tarento, it features music from Maury Yeston and is based on the book by Peter Stone. Thom Southerland directs a small cast who are nothing less than spellbinding, consisting of fresh new talent mixed with established West End faces.
The opening (Godspeed Titanic!) introduces the sheer sound the company can make. You are drawn to each individual onstage, yet captivated by the ensemble as a whole. Greg Castiglioni plays Andrews, the designer of the ship, and his exquisite vocal is subtly noticeable in all of the group numbers. The piece then moves into a fluid, charming tale where individual stories come to life, emotionally engaging the audience and setting them up for the fall, which is the inevitable sinking.
Mr and Mrs Isidor Straus, played by Dudley Rogers and Judith Street, are enchanting together. Their final duet where Ida Straus refuses to mount the lifeboat in the name of love is sincere and technically fine. The sequence To the Lifeboats is choreographed with an amazing, heart-wrenching grace. The musical staging by Cressida Carre has extracted a very human physicality from the ensemble that is spot on, yet has maintained a display of obvious skill.
The show stops your heart and makes the spine tingle. It manages to create a tension for an already clued-up audience, which is a credit to both ensemble and director. It is respectful, and very well cast. James Austen-Murray’s Barrett has a Disney’s Gaston quality, which is suitably attractive. Simon Green’s Ismay is excitable, pedantic and publicity hungry, while James Hume’s Mr Etches is delicate and ever so likable. His role as a first class server is pleasing, and particularly touching when he continues to serve as they wait for the ship to hit the bottom of the ocean.
There’s so much passion and fire in the production. It’s simply unmissable – captivating, slick and mightily impressive.
The final touch: a list of those who died appearing on the floor after the finale as the house lights come up. It’s easy to forget that the story being told is true, but this is very much at the forefront of this production, and rightly so.
Photos: Annabel Vere
Titanic is at the Southwark Playhouse until 31st August 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.