Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until 21st January 2023
Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth
On their UK and Ireland tour, this outstanding production stops at the Sheffield Lyceum for a week. Written and directed by Conor McPherson with the story surrounding the songs of Bob Dylan.
Get whisked into the depression era of the early 1930s and follow the story of Nick (Colin Connor), Elizabeth (Frances McNamee) and their kids Marianne (Justina Kehinde) and Gene (Gregor Milne). They have a complex and difficult set-up, Elizabeth is struggling with dementia, having to live in a house with her husband (and carer) who is having relations with widow Mrs Neilsen (Maria Omakinwa). Their alcohol loving son Gene seems to be stuck in a rut trying to make it in the writing world but not making much progress due to the drink and then their adopted daughter who is pregnant with no father in the picture. Witness romance and sad times, as the storyline unfolds and explores the awful realities of extremely racist times that people lived through then.
To mention all the actors that are great in this show would be impossible as literally every single one is the full package. The strength of these actors is unreal, they leave goosebumps and butterflies and to put into words how polished this is, is quite difficult, you really need to see it. McNamee is electric, her energy on stage is unique and she can make you feel emotionally charged with her sombre, confused state as Elizabeth and then her happy and joyful outbursts when singing and dancing. Omakinwa lights up the stage when she first enters with her beautiful voice and smile. Kehinde is perfect for the role of Marianne and has some superb moments with her solos. The effortless vocals of Eve Norris, during duet I Want You, are just breath-taking. The ensemble are literally the strongest out there, one really standing out was Daniel Reid-Walters, the energy he put into each number did not go unrecognised.
The set and costume design really took this show to the next level, hats off to designer Rae Smith. Every detail was worth it, the lights, the detailed plentiful props and appropriate costumes, all just added such charisma.
Musical numbers that really stood out were almost all of them! Slow Train was just exquisite, a visual masterpiece, well placed cast and a sweet-sounding ensemble. The female group singing at the front at the end of this number was the cherry on top.
A dark, dramatic, romantic and starkly sad at times storyline which will draw you in and keep you there with the actors right until the very end. Mind-blowingly entertaining, emotion-churning and a perfect visual platter! this show will leave a real lick of refreshing artistry with you.