Review: Rue Magique

By John Nathan, October 30, 2008

Kings Head, London N1

There is no such thing as an unsuitable subject for a musical - whether it is the Holocaust (which is the background to the forthcoming Imagine This) or child prostitution, the subject of Brett Kahr's debut musical.

But you have to get the tone exactly right to pair singing with suffering. Lisa Forrell's book and production veers between the mawkish and the melodramatic, which is exactly wrong. Set in a South London brothel, this show attempts to lighten the mood by poking fun at the customers. But central is the story of 13-year-old Sugar (Nadia Di Mambro) who is forced into prostitution by her monstrous mother (Melanie La Barrie).

Though his lyrics need sharpening, Kahr has a talent for sweet and inventive melody. But on this final preview night, filled with supportive friends of the production, even this audience didn't know whether to applaud or sit in stony silence after watching a child sing about her birthday while a fat middle-aged bloke rapes her. Personally, I'd go for the silence.

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Last updated: 10:53am, October 30 2008