Reviewed by Michelle Wright and Rebecca Dickinson
A magical and sensory but very emotional journey.
Have you ever listened to a piece of music, closed your eyes and instantly been transformed to a different place or time, and just shut out the world for a few seconds? Evita did this for a few hours and totally had me immersed. I didn’t think it was possible to feel that much emotion surrounded by lots of strangers. The actor’s performances were compelling and had me from the start.
Now, I’m not going to run through the story, you can pick up that information anywhere. Nor will I offer detailed critique of which I am not really qualified to do. I’m going to tell you about my experience and how I felt being part of the audience.
Having not seen the film and only knowing the basics of the story, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The whole experience has somehow passed me by as a 39-year-old (amazing I know). So as a “Newbie” having Che narrate really helped to capture the essence of the people of Argentina, with him being the ‘voice of the people’. He was the fibre and bonding muscle of the musical. It’s sometimes the case that you feel like the story is flitting between scenes when a narrator is involved, but that didn’t happen at all. Using a common film trope of story reversal was great but I must admit, it did kind of throw me that the beginning of the show was the end, but you quickly overcome that.
Highlights for me were ‘What happens now’ song. Wow, such great composition. I loved the softness of the male voices that totally complimented the power of the mistress’s voice. Another was ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’. Not sure I can find the words for that. Mesmerized is a good one. I knew this would touch me as it was one of my late father’s favorite songs covered by Elaine Paige. I was hoping the performance would be average so I didn’t get upset, but no, truly outstanding, so the tears were rolling for that one, just for you dad.
Voices throughout the show are outstanding. A little difficult to catch all words on quicker paced songs, especially Eva in her younger days. That’s not to say that the vocals were not amazing. Eva has the perfect vocal for this part. Very clear and easy to understand. The power in their voices literally surrounds you and takes you to another place. You forget where you are at times and it equals any IMAX experience for immersion
The staging and design was very effective, simple with lots of depth and its subtlety was its strength in keeping you focused. It just worked so well.
I must admit, I wish I’d read up more on the details of the story prior to going as I think I would have enjoyed it even more. But I can safely say, this performance will continue to nourish my theatre bug. It has encouraged me to dig a little deeper and make a list of things I have simply thought “not for me”. I encourage anyone who has been passed by this great piece to book quickly, and if the excellent cast are appearing in any other productions soon they are worth tracking down.
I didn’t cry for Argentina but I would cry if I didn’t get to see this ever again. A must see.
Tickets cost from £23.50 to £49.50 (booking fees may apply).
Evita is at The Lowry in Manchester from 14-18 March 2017. For more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000