Earnest and Wilde, the hosts of a history lecture-cum-cabaret performance, lead the audience through the sad tale of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the deed that prompted the onset of the First World War. They claim to provide unseen letters and diary entries to reveal hitherto unheard details of the story. These are then performed and turn out to be the lyrics of popular modern songs. Why? I am not quite sure.
“The characters were utterly charming”
This production contains a lot of interesting ideas. Giving historical figures the words of modern popular artists could spawn a great musical, if the chosen songs really fitted the new context or it was only the tunes that were kept and all the lyrics are changed. However, Earnest and Wilde decided on a peculiar combination of original and newly written lyrics for their songs. The concept has potential, but unfortunately, it does not all come together. The modern song lyrics made only tenuous sense when jammed into a new historical or narrative context and I remained confused as to what era we were supposed to be in.
There are some positives. The characters were utterly charming and the best thing about this show was undeniably their relationship and the way that they strive to irritate each other, stealing the limelight and correcting each other’s facts or pronunciation. They spoke to the audience a little but not enough to establish a connection – in fact, I felt rather awkward throughout the performance, unsure of how to react.
This production was unfortunately destined from the outset to be nothing more than faintly amusing. The performers do not lack talent but the concept of the show needs some major adjustments.
Earnest & Wilde: Let’s Face the Music (and Franz) is performing at C Venues until August 27th (not 14th), tickets can be purchased here.
Image: Rhymes With Purple in association with C theatre
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