Having never seen Assassins and with a penchant for all things ‘murder’ and an appetite for true crime, I rocked up to the Press Night of this production full of anticipation and I wasn’t disappointed.
The Pleasance Theatre (once you get used to its out of comfort zone location) is warm and welcoming and the perfect space for this revival.
With a well directed four piece band accompaniment and a slick revolving stage, allowing for seamless scene transition, this ensemble cast admirably brought to life how the misguided but self righteous true life assassins would be, with a picture of ‘fact’ and surreal imagined ‘what if’s’.
It was slightly disappointing to have technical issues with microphones cutting out and issues with feedback, when in a space of that size the actors shouldn’t need to rely so much on technology but one hopes that was a first night blip.
Overall it was a thrilling piece of theatre with clever set design and Sondheim’s familiar discordant harmonies well conveyed by a uniformly talented cast, in which it is almost impossible to single out any one performance. I did however particularly enjoy Andrew Pepper‘s manic, comic and ultimately tragic turn as Charles Guiteau.
Give our current political climate and the topicality of gun crime, lyrics demonstrating the ease with which ‘all you have to do is squeeze your little finger and you can change the world’ were particularly thought provoking, though I wasn’t sure that the addition of Donald Trump as a potential next victim was in good taste! Overall however I would say this is a great revival of a classic Sondheim piece.
Reviewed by Nicole Faraday