Review: Carousel

By John Nathan, December 11, 2008

Savoy Theatre, London WC2

The dark hero in the musical by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book and lyrics), is the strapping fairground barker Billy Bigelow (Jeremiah James), a quick-tempered feckless dolt, prone to beating his trusting wife, Julie (Alexander Silber).

After killing himself during a botched robbery, heaven gives him a second chance at redemption. Back on earth, he hits his daughter who learns the lesson her mother has long known, that it is possible for someone to hit you hard and for it not to hurt at all. Really?
There are some fine songs here — Bustin’ Out All Over and the psychologically subtle If I Loved You — and the singing in Lindsay Posner’s visually arresting production is impressive, not least from Leslie Garrett’s Nettie who delivers “You’ll Never Walk Alone” powerfully. It’s good to hear the chord-shifting subtleties of a song that the Liverpool Kop never finds —nor seeks.

But despite all this — and Adam Cooper’s erotic choreography — I’m left cold by an old fashioned show whose message, drawn from Ferenc Molnár’s once-popular play, feels like an apologia for bullying.

(Tel: 0870 164 8787)

Last updated: 4:42pm, April 28 2009