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Lizzie review at Greenwich Theatre, London – ‘loud, messy and incoherent’

The cast of Lizzie at Greenwich Theatre, London. Photo: Soren Malmose
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More a live rock concert for four spiky, spicy “rock chicks” than a fully-fledged musical, Lizzie is a raucous, noisy scream of a show. Making its UK premiere following a run in Denmark, its peculiar brand of Euro-pop aesthetic and sensibilities is mad, bad and dangerous to know – a bit like its (anti)heroine Lizzie Borden, whose alleged axe-murder of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts in the late 19th century became a cause celebre.

The story has previously been told in various films, an opera and an earlier musical. This one has all the trappings of “rock chick” chic: it features a parade of four glamorous women, kitted out in fetish-wear and outfits that run from PVC to corsets and leotards.

The quartet field fierce voices, including the striking Danish performer Bjorg Gamst in the title role with Broadway performer Eden Espinosa as her sister Emma. They are joined by powerful British singers Jodie Jacobs (a stalwart of rock musicals) and Bleu Woodward.

But for all the ferocity of their singing, they can’t rise above the numbing lack of variety in the music or the incoherence of the storytelling – its not always easy to work out what’s going on. Director Victoria Bussert distracts the attention by fielding an impressive light show (by designer Martin Jensen) and a trio of onstage guitarists provide aggressive accompaniment.

In Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze famously says of the watermelon-carrying heroine, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” Here watermelons serve an entirely different and far messier purpose. Those in the front row are issued with plastic macs. It’s about the only exciting thing in the show.

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Loud, incoherent and messy rock musical inspired by the story of Lizzie Borden