Disclaimer: I feel I have to say straight away I’m not a huge fan of Evita. I went because the husband is a fan and had never had the chance to see it live.
I feel this is also a review of the Royal Opera House because I had never been before. We were sat in the circle and I must say the room was very spacious. The view was also very good, even though we paid for restricted view on one of the seats (see disclaimer above) my view was superb . It’s actually difficult to say what was restricted about the view. Also, unlike some theatres, even though we were on a higher level it remained a reasonable temperature. The bar was a little small and it took at least 15 minutes before we were served but the prices were reasonable. The same can be said of the concession ice creams. Unfortunately I’m writing this review about a couple of months after the actual show so can’t be sure of the actual prices but I think we paid about £1.50 for a large bottle of water (I think I remember this price from another production we went to see though, this will teach me to write more regularly, maybe )
The production we went to see was the national tour with Marti Pellow which is now settled in the West End. The basic story is of Eva Peron, a young woman from a forgotten family of a man already with a family to become the first woman of Argentina. It was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Most people would have been exposed to it in 1996 when a film was released staring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, at which point several of the songs sung by Madonna were in the Top 40. It was the film that my husband first saw and he in time showed it to me, which I had vaguely heard of but never seen. Whilst I enjoyed the film it didn’t become a favourite of mine, whilst my husband watches it at least once a year.
When he saw it advertised he immediately
begged nagged whined asked very nicely if we could get tickets as he had missed the tour when it came to our Local theatre. I agreed, but was happier when I only paid £12 for my ticket due to the limited view.
So the actually production. There was a stand out moment. The woman who sang “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” had the most beautiful voice and for the handful of minutes she was on stage she had my full attention. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the other actors.
Marti Pellow, best known as the lead singer of Wet Wet Wet, was good but not outstanding. The female lead was so unmemorable I can’t remember her name (Edit: It’s Madalena Alberto. I did have to google it) There also appeared to be zero chemistry between the principle characters of Eva, Peron and Che. When the husband asked my what I thought my initial reaction was that I though Marti Pellow came across as some weird stalker. He said I was missing the point, that he was the narrator and an Everyman who was to blend into every scene. I didn’t miss the point, it was just very poor execution. Rather than blending in and giving more information, as that is what I believe a narrator should do, many times he was the main focus of a scene. Even when he tried to go into he background it was in such an exaggerated way you couldn’t help but notice him. For example, during Good Night and Thank You I would not consider his role or voice in the song to be the one to gain the most attention, yet he was swinging around the poles that supported the balcony and seemed to be almost shouting at points. It was irritating. This is also not a attack against Marti Pellow, I happen to quite like Wet Wet Wet, I just didn’t particularly have any fondest for him in this role. It also didn’t help that he appeared to wear the same clothes in each scene, when all the other characters had a costume change, and in Eva’s case several. It didn’t help him blend in, yet it didn’t define him as a character either.
In terms of Eva and Juan Peron there seemed to be zero interaction. We are suppose to believe that these two people are either in lust, in love r have a strong relationship for mutual gain. My recollection is that they spent the majority of time on stage at opposite ends, with as much space between them. The final scenes, where Eva is dying, also seemed to make him more cold and distant.
The stage design was, thankfully, simple yet effective. Two spiral staircases at both edges of the stage with a connecting balcony in the middle which could be pulled forward and moved back as the action required. It also became the beautiful centrepiece during Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, almost give. The effect that Eva was above the audience, rather than performing on a stage.
Whilst individual elements of his production were superb others were very disappointing. This production was never going to ignite my love for Evita.
2 out of 5 stars.