Company: Gielgud Theatre, London
Reviewed 21st January 2019
The hit Broadway show, Company has been reimagined by Marianne Elliott in this new, gender-swapped version of the iconic production. Having quickly receiving outstanding reviews from critics and audiences alike, Company tells the story of Bobbie, who is inundated with questions from her friends at her 35th birthday party. Why isn’t she married? Why can’t she find the right man and settle down? Company features Stephen Sondheim’s award winning songs Company, You Could Drive a Person Crazy, The Ladies Who Lunch, Side by Side and the iconic Being Alive.
The comedic plot adapts well to the changes to the characters and Marianne Elliot’s vision works well to update the 1970 musical. The characters are all well played, notably Jonathon Bailey’s character, Jamie, who almost stole the show during his hilarious song ‘Getting Married Today‘. Rosalie Craig’s voice is superb, especially during the stand out song ‘Being Alive‘. Mel Giedroyc proves that she is much more than a TV comedian and presenter with her comic portrayal of Sarah and her relationship with long-suffering husband Harry, played by Gavin Spokes, is brilliant. Of course, the big star many audience members will be waiting for is Patti LuPone who proves she is still on the top of her game. ‘The Ladies Who Lunch‘ is sung effortlessly and with brilliant comic timing. Another character who really stands out is Richard Fleeshman’s flight attendant, Andy. The ‘Poor Baby‘ scene shows off Richard’s acting and vocal talents and the direction of this number is outstanding. All of the cast are brilliant and allow their characters to have their own direction and persona whilst still being part of a ‘couple’.
What stands this production apart from other versions is the outstanding set design by Bunny Christie. Featuring the orchestra visible above the stage as opposed to being hidden away in the pit, the almost blacked out stage consists of moving rooms and buildings highlighting the ‘boxed up’ compartmentalised fashion of Bobbie’s life. The lighting by Neil Austin is reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and works effectively, particularly the use of the spot light on the central character Bobbie and the colour choices throughout. The large set pieces move around the stage using automation and are smooth with each transition being cleverly designed so that no time is wasted. Marianne Elliot’s fantastic direction is made visually even more impressive by these detailed, clever set pieces. The neutral colours with added touches work really well to create the different spaces in Bobbie’s life.
Company is a very funny show, brilliant for couples and a slightly older audience who will understand the complexities of marriage and relationships. The talented cast help bring characters alive and whilst, at times, the plot does get slightly stagnant, Company is definitely worth a visit – particularly as it is on a strictly limited run!
Company runs at the Gielgud Theatre until 30th March 2019. For information or tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Brinkhoff/Mögenburg