Hope Mill online – until 20 December 2020
Reviewed by Angelos Spantideas
Rent being a classic musical with an amazingly diverse cast and a beautiful collection of rock songs, some of which have become anthems for musical lovers, is always a unique experience regardless of how many times one has seen it before. However, being able to enjoy Rent from the comfort of your home, while being able to sing alone to your favourite songs, is a gift for theatre lovers, that brings a sense of normality amid another lockdown.
The Jonathan Larson musical, produced by Luke Sheppard, is about the lives of a group of young New Yorkers who are struggling to make ends meet and pay rent, and express themselves through their art while they are facing the lurking HIV/AIDS crisis. The stage of the Hope Mill Theatre transforms through the night with very smart and carefully though set changes and proves once more that despite its small size can host great productions that audiences can dive into even remotely. At the same time, the dynamic cinematography of the performance ensures that no sacrifice has been made in the quality of the filming, leaving the viewer with a sense of watching the show from the front row.
The stage fills from the first minute with a cast of very talented actors who through the night maintain a high energy, entertaining atmosphere with each actor shinning in their own way as the story unfolds. The cast selection feels truly diverse and doing justice a musical that is the pinnacle of representation of the lives and experiences of minorities. The vocal quality of each actor is impeccable, giving life to every song, while the choreography creates a fluid movement of the actors through the stage that is never left empty.
A moment that should not be missed is the soulful Dom Hartley-Harris as Collins giving a chilling performance of “I‘ll Cover You” that truth transcends space and makes the viewer connect with his character and empathise with his grief on a deeper level. Lastly, the performance of Alex Thomas-Smith as Angel commanded the stage and stood out with his delicate and authentic depiction of being a gender non-conforming person.
Online until 20 December – get tickets from https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/events/rent-online