“A good fun show”
How does a bastardised musical, shown in a hall in Scotland, drop in the story of a driver and take top spot with the audiences in Edinburgh?
For me, London’s King’s Head Theatre easily take pole position with this compelling concept for a show – telling Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton’s life story in the style of hit (and very current) musical Hamilton. There are many crossovers to be made, and how figures within the driver’s life seem to fit into Hamilton’s character list is almost uncanny, making it an intelligent move with some decent thought behind it. The opening rap number introducing the main man is an impressive homage to the original, setting up a potentially thrilling and funny performance.
Yet what follows unfortunately feels quite rushed and clompy, lacking the narrative arc required to make it feel like a complete piece – the ending in particular feels like the writers just ran out of ideas and decided to quit while they were ahead.
In saying that, there are plenty of references to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit throughout, with lyrics, characters, and musical motifs (that die-hard Hamilton fans will appreciate) woven in seamlessly. The bulk of the music, however, more closely resembles run-of-the-mill musical theatre, and it’s a shame there isn’t more stylistic overlap with the original. Perhaps erring on the side of caution of not getting sued for copyright reasons comes into play here, but it’s a shame a few more risks aren’t taken to draw more parallels.
The cast are a talented bunch, and well suited to the roles they take on. They each make the most of the comedy inherent within the production and pleasingly don’t take themselves too seriously given the overall feel of the piece. It’s a big ask for four actors to bring the energy and power required to create the sense of epic storytelling Hamilton excels at, and occasionally the action falls a little flat between musical numbers, making it hard to stick with it.
What doesn’t help with the plodding nature of the piece is the very simple staging, and lack of interaction with the set and props decorating the space. The direction (like the script) feels very rushed just to get the show on, and more creativity with the space and better integration of performance and design would help give the piece a more professional feel.
This is a good fun show, but just feels unfinished.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 1 August)