I LOVE Michael Crawford. The original Phantom of the Opera and more recently his charming performance as the Wizard, in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. His new show, The Go-Between, which has just opened in London’s West End at the Apollo Theatre shall sadly not go down in history as his greatest performance.
Based on LP Hartley’s 1953 novel, The Go-Between is a retrospective look back at a time in Colston’s (Michael Crawford) life when he was a child and spent the summer with a rich family in Norfolk. Arriving with just the clothes he was wearing, the family took him under their wing and showed him a life he had never dreamed of. The crux of the story revolves around Marian (gorgeously played by Gemma Sutton) and her secret love affair with a nearby farmer Ted (Stuart Ward). The class divide means that they can never be together but for that summer they use Coulston as a messenger to pass notes between them. As with any school holiday though, things must come to an end but some people deal with it better than others.
The biggest issue with The Go-Between is that is doesn’t seem to know whether it is a play or a musical. Originally a play, it was adapted into a musical in 2011, where it premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. With just a grand piano on stage, there is no orchestra and pieces of songs seem to be slotted in around the dialogue but never actually reaching to composition of a full song.
At 74 years old, Michael Crawford may be a living legend but his quivering vocals and the lacklustre role he has taken on in this show do not do him any favours. William Thompson and Archie Stevens give wonderful performances as the children Leo and Marcus and Stuart Ward is impressive as farmer Ted (and it’s easy to see why Marian falls for him). Gemma Sutton is the saving grace as Marian with gorgeous vocals and a truly lovable portrayal of the character.
The Go-Between is one of those classic examples of where people describe it as ‘nice’. That isn’t the kind of word you want to hear if you are paying a large amount for a ticket. Perhaps as a play this show could work better but in its current format I wonder how it has even made it as far as the West End.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Johan Persson
The Go-Between plays at the Apollo Theatre until 15 October 2016. Tickets