Metropolis was considered a flop when it premiered in London in 1989, closing after just six months. Director Tim McArthur was lucky enough to catch it on a trip to London with his mum, when he found two free tickets hidden inside the LP he bought of this new musical. Since that day, it has been a dream of his I revive this show and has now brought it back to life at Ye Olde Rose and Crown in Walthamstow.
In a dystopian future, where things we take for granted (like natural energy sources) no longer exist, lies the city of Metropolis. Long after Superman was around to save people, Metropolian’s have to fight for themselves to stay alive.
The people of Metropolis are born and raised underground. Their life purpose, to work the machines and create energy for the elitists who live above ground in a world that few people below remember. Only Maria still recalls things like the sun and the trees and goes against the rules to teach the children about how life used to be. When elitist Steven discovers the underground world and falls in love with Maria, it becomes their mission to rescue the workers from the lives they are being forced to live.
Musically Metropolis is a feast for the ears, brilliantly musically directed by Aaron Clingham. The sound at times overpowers the singing and some of the louder numbers verge on shouting rather than singing in order to be heard but this is an issue found in many Off West End venues as it is difficult to find a good balance in a small space with no microphones. However the songs are brilliantly written and left me wanting to go home and download the original recording of these hidden gems of songs.
The cast of seventeen work well together under the direction of Tim McArthur to create a futuristic world. There are some great moments of dance and Milya Alexandra is one to watch, making her professional debut as Maria/Futura. Rob Herron is captivating as Steven and looks more comfortable with his character as the performance progresses. Gareth James does a good job as the man in charge of the factory John Freeman, although I felt there were many more layers to the character that could have been explored in the performance.
The West End may not have been ready for Metropolis when it premiered thirty years ago, but with futuristic shows like Urinetown and We Will Rock You doing well recently, I think it could be the right time for Metropolis to make a big come back in London.
Reviewed by West End Wilma