Sunday, 9 November 2014

Fan Review - The Last Ship - From @Lou_Lee1

It's that time again, another fabulous write up from a fan whose been lucky enough to get over to see Rachel in The Last Ship. Her thoughts are below.

"It is Oct 30th and I'm lucky enough to get to spend my birthday not just in glorious NYC, but by seeing Sting's freshly written new musical 'The Last Ship' which had its premier at the Neil Simon theatre just four days earlier. Having heard the album which had been written last year year and played recently on Radio 2, I can honestly say that my motivation to see this production was not the music. By not being a particular fan of Sting's, and not really having any emotional attachment to the music, my motivation to see this production was purely to see the brilliance of Rachel Tucker on the Broadway stage. The biggest problem with this mindset was that I was potentially creating a significant pitfall as my expectations had grown so enormous, particularly after her outstanding concert last year, that no performer would be able to stand up to my unrealistic expectations. I will review the performances later but for now let me recall the overall experience. 
As I've already explained, I had my initial reservations about Sting's score which is mostly new material with a few additions from previous albums. But the moment we get introduced to Young Meg and Gideon in 'Island of Souls' you are instantly transported to the raw grit of a Wallsend shipyard. The narrative is pretty straight forwards. Young Gideon played by the highly talented Colin Kelly-Sordelet, who also plays the son of older Gideon, (incidentally is there something in the 'Kelly' DNA that results in such talented performers!?) escapes his repressive father leaving behind his life including his childhood sweetheart for the adventure of life at sea. On his return, everything has changed and life has moved on leaving him to deal with the consequences. After finding his old flame Meg Dawson (the incomparable Rachel Tucker) a love triangle ensues as Dawson is now with Arthur Millburn (Aaron Lazar). Being reunited with her first love creates confusion and reignites the desire she once had and the anger she still has at his decision to escape. 
This love triangle is set against the backdrop of a community wanting to build one last ship in order to give there community meaning once more. The emotions run high throughout this production. The humour is provided by the wonderful comic timing of Father O'Brian played so compassionately by Fred Applegate and the passion to succeed against the challenges of society is portrayed with conviction by the whole company. There is not one week link in the company. All seem perfectly cast. Jimmy Nail acts like a narrator and carries the show with his authenticity. Sadly, my only complaint about this production results in his real accent showing up some of the rather suspect Geordie interpretations. Michael Esper has great stage presence and is completely believable as the older Gideon clearly fighting his own demons. Fortunately his acting makes up for his slighter weaker voice although his character suited a rough and gritty vocal. Aaron Lazar plays the more passive character in the love triangle whose voice is beautiful despite his character not having a great deal to play with. Then there is Rachel Tucker! I have been lucky enough to witness her talents previously in Farragut North as well as her wonderful solo concert. So I am very aware of her talents on stage. But this was the first time I got to witness her equal ability to sing and act together live on stage. Her ability to tell narrative through song is phenomenal. The love triangle is played out beautifully in "When We Dance" but none more so than Tucker's portrayal where you can see the tears streaming down her face. Every time Tucker is on stage she commands your attention with the attention to detail and the natural ease with which she puts life into her character. Meg's character could have had so much more backstory and the writers missed a trick  by not investing more time into this feisty character that Tucker brings so many dimensions to. Her number "If you ever see me talking to a sailor" is a show stealer. Thankfully the world got to see this after being shown live on the Jimmy Fallon show. I'm sure it's this performance that will land Rachel Tucker a Tony award and show the other side of the Atlantic how truly talented this unique and diverse actress actually is. Simply put, no other performer could uphold my unrealistic expectations yet Tucker never ceases to amaze!
Overall the show is a triumph! You leave feeling uplifted and enlightened, and in safe knowledge that you have just witness some of the most talented and in some cases the most extra-ordinary talent seen in world theatre. " @Lou_Lee1

Thanks so much @Lou_Lee1 for sharing your thoughts on The Last Ship, we find ourselves very jealous of how you got to spend your birthday & very grateful that you took the time to write this review for us. Thanks again.

If any of you are planning trips to The Last Ship, or have already had the pleasure, make sure you get in touch & let us know your thoughts.

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