Sunday in the Park with George review

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Having familiarised myself the basic plot before heading to the show, I admit I was a little bit curious as to how such a seemingly simplistic storyline was going to provide enough content for a full performance. 

It has a rather complex, and at times a little hard to follow story, following the fictionalised character of Seurat, his determined focus on his work, and the effect this has on the lives of the people he is painting.

Any worries I had, however, turned out to be completely unfounded.

The set itself was very simplistic, painted all white with a screen hanging at the back. This screen however was put to excellent use, as throughout the performance various different pictures were projected onto it. In this way the location was easily changed without the need for too many pauses and set changes. There was also a very clever use of painted screens in place of actors or animals, a technique that was both practical and comedic.

Whilst the set itself may have been rather basic, the audience was never bored of somewhere or someone to look at. By making full use of the technology available and having characters enter and leave for various different places the audience were kept entertained.

‘Sunday in the Park with George’ by Stephen Sondheim is a musical inspired by Georges Seurat’s painting, ‘A Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte’.

In preparation for these performances the Showstoppers have been rehearsing almost non-stop. Hard work that certainly paid off, for I don’t think there was a single pause for a forgotten line, a late entrance or a dodgy note sung. In fact, the singing was by far the most impressive element of the show, particularly the opening song and the skilful combining of many different parts in the numbers involving the entire cast.

One of my only criticisms would be with the attempts at American accents in the second half. It was obvious that all the cast were trying very hard, but no one quite seemed to have fully got a handle on it. Something that was a real shame as it meant that you spent more time trying to figure out where exactly the accents were meant to be from then on what was actually being said.

The plot did catch me out in the second half, and I must admit that I was a little confused by it, but that was down to the plot and not to the performance, which that remained at a very high standard. In the first half it was easy to get involved in what was going on, as you were keen to discover out more about the lives of those being painted. When it got to the second half however, I felt as though there wasn’t really much of a story left to be told,  and instead it was a bit of an excuse for a few more songs. The cast rose to the challenge however, and performed songs that were, nevertheless, very well done.

All those involved gave first-rate performances, and I feel that particular mention must be made of the amusing performances given by Cerys Weetch, Tashan Nicholas and Charissa Foster. Also to the very impressive voices of the two leading roles played by Paddy Cahill and Emma Bryant.

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