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Road Show review at Union Theatre, London – ‘never quite takes flight’

Road Show at the Union Theatre, London Photo: Scott Rylander Road Show at the Union Theatre, London Photo: Scott Rylander
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After a chequered production history that saw many changes to both the show’s format and its title, this is the first revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Road Show since its British premiere at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2011. Though it lacks the psychological weight of his earlier work, Road Show successfully taps into the murky underbelly of the American Dream through the exploits of two of the nation’s most entrepreneurial brothers, Wilson and Addison Mizner.

Structural problems aside, Road Show is perhaps Sondheim’s most malleable piece of musical theatre to date and director Phil Willmott exploits this with his pared-down production. It almost works but there is still too much theatrical baggage to make this production feel fresh. The mime could be sharper, the choreography slicker; the design is hampered by its period affectation.

The cast handle the score admirably though and both Howard Jenkins as Addison and Andre Refig as Wilson negotiate their characters’ complex emotional journeys with integrity. Joshua LeClair as the fresh-faced idealist Hollis makes for an engaging if under-developed third-wheel in the tricky relationship.

Willmott’s production while flawed, is undoubtedly part of the continuing evolution of Road Show. It solves some of its problems and stretches its wings a little, but is still unable to fully take flight.

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Verdict
Engaging if unpolished revival which goes some way to solving some of this tricky show’s problem
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