The Go-Between at the Apollo Theatre
The Go-Between has one or two solid elements but ultimately disappoints with a tremendously lacklustre narrative. This new musical adaptation of the LP Hartley’s classic novel will surely not become a classic itself.
The show opens rather tensely when an aged Leo Colston (played by Michael Crawford) discovers an old diary and is immediately surrounded by ghosts of his past. There appears to be a dark history to this character, memories he has deliberately tried to bury – trauma and horror perhaps. But it turns out it’s just an almost completely uneventful summer he spent in the country when he was 13, which is unfurled at a painfully slow rate. It is perhaps the most utterly underwhelming story imaginable. On the occasions that something is built up, usually nothing of importance happens and the thought fizzles out. And the whole thing ends up implying that Leo has gone through some remarkable revelation when all he did was remember a game of cricket he once played. The book may play on interesting themes and keep the tension going throughout but this musical does not.
The cast does well. Some demanding singing takes place throughout and everyone handles it with ease. Michael Crawford is superbly haunting when given the opportunity and can hold a note with the best of them. Luka Green and Matty Norgen are superb young actors as 13-year-old Leo and Marcus, and may well have promising careers ahead of them if they choose.
The dialogue mostly works. It’s economical, natural and there’s the occasional flash of humour to smile at. But some characters’ reactions to certain situations are a little hard to understand. Perhaps the roles and context just can’t be fleshed out enough in a musical format.
The music adds a slight boost to proceedings, enough to get people through the first part at least. Nigel Lilley accompanies the cast on stage with his piano and plays expertly throughout, but unfortunately his efforts are not enough to make up for the lack of anything happening in the second act.
For most people, The Go-Between will be one to miss, but perhaps die-hard fans of Sunday afternoon period dramas on the BBC will find a thing or two to like about it.
The Go-Between is on at the Apollo Theatre from 27th May until 15th October 2016. Book your tickets here.