REVIEW: The Simon And Garfunkel Story (Lyric Theatre) ★★★

The Simon and Garfunkel Story is exactly what it says on the tin – the story of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Legends of music and songwriting, their album Bridge Over Troubled Water was the best selling album of 1970, 1971 and 1972 which is staggering especially when you think of the Elvis Presley, The Beatles and even ABBA albums which are out there.

After touring every corner of the world, The Simon & Garfunkel Story is now at the Lyric theatre for a limited 4-night season (the first Monday of every month for September through to December). This internationally acclaimed production takes audiences through the remarkable careers of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, but not only this, it relives their journey within “a time capsule of contemporary newsreels, adverts and film footage from the 1960’s and beyond”.

The Simon and Garfunkel Story is not a jukebox musical per se – it’s not ‘Sunny Afternoon’ or ‘Mamma Mia!’ by any means. The show itself is a cabaret style concert; packed full of highlights from the duos songbook. It is striking that the evening is quite static. One can fully appreciate that Simon and Garfunkel were hardly dancing superstars and their art was very much in the music and lyrics they performed, however for a West End stage this was a notably still show.

The Lyric Theatre felt too big for this event. There were clusters of empty seats dotted around the auditorium (I had 6 empty seats to my right in Row E of the stalls) and with little movement on stage, the size of the space was not filled to its full potential. Lighting effects were basic but utilised very well during the finale and encore numbers.

Sam O’Hanlon and Charles Blyth as Simon and Garfunkel respectively are, of course, superb and share a fantastic vocal chemistry. The harmonies of the pair do absolute justice to the original tracks we all know and love so much. O’Hanlon not only sang beautifully but played acoustic guitar in every number. His dulcet tenor tones were a joy to listen to and hopefully we will see more of him in the West End in the future. His partner Blyth, was also excellent – channeling Garfunkel’s style and movements to a tee.

This evening is a superb cabaret/concert evening but it is not the West End show I was hoping for. At a dinner table venue like The Pheasantry in Chelsea, this would have been 5-star entertainment, but I was left a little bored in my seat at the lyric, despite their best efforts to encourage audience participation. You won’t miss any of your favourite hits like America, The Boxer, Sound of Silence, Mrs Robinson etc – they’re all there but it’s just not done in the most stimulating way.

The Simon and Garfunkel story wasn’t bad, but it was a little dull and could have been so much more.

Reviewed by Harriet Langdown
Photo: Jacqui Wilson