This production of Stephen Schwartz’s musical Pippin was my first press ticket since lockdown and it was a truly fun and enjoyable one! Currently running in the back garden of the Eagle Bar in Vauxhall, the musical follows a young prince named Pippin who searches for a purpose to his life as told by a performance troupe which, In this unique production, is made up by a cast of 6.
Before I go into the production itself, I have to talk about the venue as this was my first time visiting. Only just down the road from Vauxhall station (exit 3 btw for those getting the tube there), the theatre has been set up in the back garden of the Eagle bar, under, what is essentially, a large gazebo. Going into the venue was pretty straight forward as they essentially didn’t let you in before checking you 1) got your temperature checked, 2) sanitised your hands and 3) filled out the track and trace form. Then you/your party were escorted to your area of the bar to stay in while waiting to go into the actual theatre. What was good was the process of each ‘bubble’ being allowed into the space one bubble at a time. But, I do wish a bit more thought went into the seating arrangement inside the theatre. Yes, there is some space between each set of seats. But there isn’t much of it, particularly between two sets of two seats. I was luckily seated on the slightly more spaced out side of the theatre and although we all had our masks on (well, except for one person on the opposite side who had their mouth covered but not their nose throughout the entire show) it definitely didn’t feel like there was 2 metres between my set of seats and the other set. I was also sat incredibly close to a plant and burning incense which was a tad annoying at times. I do think this is such a nice little space and I hope it continues to be open even post corona because there is a lot of potential here. I just wish the seating was taken into more consideration, particularly as I imagine this will be one of the first venues theatregoers will visit since lockdown. If Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre can do it, then so can all outdoor theatres.
Now, onto the show. I thought this was a truly wonderful production of Pippin. The first time I had seen the musical was back at the Southwark Playhouse in 2018. While that production had more theatrics, Stephen Dexter’s production drills more focus into the storytelling aspect. It truly felt like 6 people getting together in a back garden to have fun and play. This is a very intimate production that often breaks the fourth wall which makes the audience feel included, which I thought was a good directional choice. I really liked the set and the costumes both designed by David Shields. Although the boho – flower aesthetic looks like it belongs in a production of Hair, I did realise later on that it fits in with the whole look of the theatre, which I thought was quite nice.
This 6 strong cast are all fantastic. Ryan Anderson plays Pippin who was truly excellent. I have to comment on how good his New York accent was, he actually sounds like how Lin-Manuel Miranda talks. That’s how authentic it sounded. He delivered a very moving rendition of stand out track Corner Of The Sky and delivered an overall fantastic performance. I have to mention Tsemaye Bob-Egbe was a truly incredible Leading Player, she just commanded the stage every time she stepped onto it and her voice is so stunning. Joanne Clifton was hilarious in her dual roles as Pippin’s stepmother and grandmother Berthe. Given her CV, it’s not breaking news that she’s a great dancer but it was nice to see her in a role where her acting chops shined.
Overall, I really liked this production of Pippin and wish it all of the success in a time where the industry is being flooded in uncertain waters. This is something I would definitely see again. At the time though, I think the seating arrangement inside the theatre needs to be reviewed to allow for more space and keep in line with better social distancing.
For tickets and more information on Pippin, please visit https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/united-kingdom/garden-theatre-eagle-london/pippin/e-lrjmzd. Pippin runs until the 11th October 2020.
Photo credit: Bonnie Britain Photography
Until next time,
Categories: On Stage