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Review: Goodbye Barcelona

Well-sung but still raw.

Arcola Theatre, London E8

    Goodbye Barcelona: well-sung but still raw
    Goodbye Barcelona: well-sung but still raw

    From the Jewish East End, where the battle cry was "they shall not pass", to the Spanish Civil War, where it was "No pasarán!", this rousing new musical pays tribute to the International Brigade that fought against the fascist forces in Spain.

    Judith Johnson's book follows the fortunes of idealistic, Jewish East-End boy Sammy (Tom Gill) who joins the brigade after fighting the blackshirts in the Cable Street riots.

    Karen Rabinowitz's production, looks good against the Arcola's bare brick, and has a great deal of Republican fist-clenching à la Les Misérables, but it feels as if that show was the last production the creators of Goodbye Barcelona saw. Musical theatre has developed a lot since then. The performers sing and act well, but K S Lewkowicz's songs never rise organically out of the story and they provide little in the way of a unifying melodic theme. A committed cast gives polish to a show that feels like a work in progress.

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