Les Misérables Review

Hull New Theatre – until 9th July 2022

Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams


Cameron Mackintosh’s outstanding production of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables blew away the audience at the Hull New Theatre last night. The auditorium was packed and the sound of the standing ovation given by the audience has to be one of the loudest I can remember. This is also the first production I have ever seen where there was so much audible sobbing from the audience, such is the emotion played out on the stage by the superlatively talented cast.

Les Misérables is based on the novel by Victor Hugo and tells the story of Jean Valjean (Will Barratt) who at the start of the story is convict no 24601, a man without a name, whose crime was to steal a loaf of bread. After he is released, he finds that life is no better as he has to display a ticket which leads to him being made an outcast. In an astonishing twist the Bishop of Digne gives him a chance to start afresh. The story picks up eight years later when Jean Valjean has changed his name and become a successful factory owner and mayor. However, he has also broken his parole and throughout the story he is pursued by Javert (Nic Greenshields) who is determined to send him back to jail. Valjean makes a promise to Fantine (Rachel Ann Go) that he will look after her daughter and the story picks up nine years later in a turbulent Paris where the students are attempting to start a revolution.

Les Misérables is set in a time when life was exceedingly hard for the poor and the drabness of the sets and the costumes add to this feeling, often contrasting sharply with the sumptuousness of the music. The staging is astonishing creating an oppressive atmosphere laced with the feeling of danger, the barricade scene was particularly realistic. The music is sublime and the Orchestra, under the direction of Ben Ferguson were superb, I was astonished to see how few musicians were in the orchestra as the music soared and filled the auditorium.

Will Barratt was outstanding as Jean Valjean, whether he was raging at the world or trying to put right its wrongs. His performance of “Bring Him Home” was breath-taking in its perfection, every note dripped with emotion. His duet with Fantine of “Come To Me” was heart-breaking.

Rachel Ann Go was perfect as Fantine, as we watched her despair and desperation to be able to ensure her daughter was card for. “I Dreamed A Dream” was delivered so beautifully.

Nic Greenshields as Javert brought exactly the right amount of menace to the role, his presence meant that your eyes were drawn to him.

Éponine was brought to life by Nathania Og as she fell in love with a man who wasn’t interested in her and her rendition of “On My Own” was so full of despair.

Light relief was brought by the Thénardiers, Ian Hughes was perfect as Thénardier, his performance was full of with and humour, especially in “Master Of The House”, until you realised that this amiable character had a much darker side. Helen Walsh was excellent as Madame Thénardier.

Mention must go to Noah Walton who played Gavroche with a maturity and confidence well beyond his years, this was a fabulous performance and I suspect this is a name to watch for in the future.

Les Misérables is a sung-through performance, one which depends on the whole ensemble, their singing and harmonies were wonderful throughout.

At three hours Les Misérables is a long performance but the music and story will carry you through and it will be over all too soon. Les Misérables will take you to the depth of despair, make you laugh out loud but will be a theatre experience that will stay in your heart for a very long time. This really is a must see performance