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Closer to Heaven

Closer to Heaven, Union Theatre. Photos: Darren Bell Closer to Heaven, Union Theatre. Photos: Darren Bell
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The original production of Closer to Heaven closed after a brief run in the West End after tepid reviews and a rapid drop in tourism post-9/11. This new production, directed by Gene David Kirk and choreographed by Philip Joel, is London’s first revival and sold out its four-week run in 48 hours.

With an original score by the Pet Shop Boys and a book by Jonathan Harvey, Closer to Heaven is a love story set in the hedonistic world of London’s club scene. The electronic, synthpop music and tight harmonies of the Pet Shop Boys work particularly well, capturing both the era and mood of turn-of-the-century clubland. Sadly, Harvey’s book is a car-crash of hackneyed dialogue, two-dimensional characters and howling cliche.

Kirk and Joel go some way to rectify this problem with thoughtful direction and frenetic, club-styled choreography, performed by a good-looking, energetic ensemble. A menacing Ken Christiansen as Bob and a game Katie Meller as Billie Tricks flesh out the comic potential of their characters with some success. Newcomer Jared Thompson as Dave, Amy Matthews as Shell and Connor Brabyn as drug dealer Mile End Lee negotiate their love triangle with enthusiasm and a gravity that thankfully defies the writing.

Note: this review originally appeared with a four-star rating owing to an administrative error

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Verdict
An energetic and entertaining revival that celebrates the music but struggles with a cliche-ridden book
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