Preludes @ Southwark Playhouse*

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tickets and more information: https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show/preludes/
Booking until: 12th October
Run time: 2 hr 15 mins.
Production Photographs by: Scott Rylander
Trigger warnings: Flashing lights, strobe lights. 

Dave Malloy’s sonically charged musical Preludes is making it’s UK premiere at the Southwark Playhouse. Obviously, as a huge fan of his musical Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet Of 1812, I was SO thrilled to get the chance to see this. Taking place inside the mind of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, the entire piece is a colourful kaleidoscope of moments from Sergei’s life that he revisits during a hypnotherapy session.

For a show that constantly jumps from one scene to the next without a real linear narrative driving it, Alex Sutton’s direction allows the piece to flow with ease. It makes sense for the scenes in Dave Malloy’s book to be a bit all over the place, as it’s reflective of the mania that Sergei is experiencing. While some scenes, such as Natalya and Sergei asking for permission to marry, feel more grounded in reality. However, you get the occasional scene like the opening of act 2, that feels super trippy and really bring out the fantastical elements of the show. Christopher Nairne’s lighting design is trance inducing and is masterful at creating a powerful atmosphere. Rebecca Brower’s simple and sleek stage maintains a huge presence throughout the performance with it’s stage similarly shaped like the top of a piano, indicating how much of Sergei’s world revolves around his music.

Tom Noyes, Keith Ramsay, Preludes credit Scott Rylander

The entire cast are delivering superb performances. Playing Sergei’s musical self is expert piano player Tom Noyes, who spends the vast majority of the show at a baby grand piano while Keith Ramsay portray’s Sergei’s real self. The decision to have two actors playing the same man works really well here as it presents how one is viewed versus how they view themselves. Keith Ramsay’s ability to deliver a manic induced speech, rattling off words at the speed of lightning is remarkable and he overall delivers an incredibly captivating performance. Georgia Louise who play’s Sergei’s fiancee Natalya is also fantastic, her act one finale ballad ‘Natalya’ was the highlight of the show for me, allowing her to show off her incredibly moving vocals.

Preludes isn’t a typical musical because at some moments it’s part rave, part opera, part musical interlude. But it’s great to see how Dave Malloy has successfully challenged the musical format to create something as vibrant and bold as this. Absolutely go and see, there’s isn’t anything quite like it.

Until next time,

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