Sharon D Clarke stars in Michael Blakemore’s production The Life, now playing at the Southwark Playhouse. But what have critics been saying about it? 


Queen and Fleetwood are just trying to get by. New York has hit a moral rock bottom, and opportunity is becoming a scarcity. Queen is now selling herself to anyone with cash in Times Square, while Fleetwood is spending that cash on his nightly fix. Such is a regular story for those in The Life – just ask Sonja, whose market value as a hooker is depleting. It seems that nothing ever improves for those in The Life, but when a mysteriously innocent farm girl named Mary shows up, and Memphis and Joio, the biggest players in town, offer to help Queen out, will things start looking up?

The Financial Times: *** “The production shows his customary care and sensitivity, but I fear the intervening years have not been kind.”

The Stage: **** “Michael Blakemore, who directed the original, now returns, aged 88, to do so again, and he gives it a fluent ease, even if it feels a little overlong, with dazzling choreography by Tom Jackson Grieves and evocatively seedy sets by Justin Nardella.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “a great, unsung musical that, if it’s to really nail its revival, needs a sharper sensibility than this – a staging that rather fluffs its feminist credentials with a quick flash of its leading ladies’ tits.”

The Upcoming: *** “With glittering costumes, brilliant lyrics and powerful vocals, though it’s been 20 years since its last outing, The Life is very much still alive and well.”

The Independent: ***** “A crime if this show does not transfer to the West End.”

The Reviews Hub: ***** “A frankly outrageous show – maybe not one for kids but one for anyone looking to actually have a real emotion.”

The Times: *** “The production deserves a bigger stage, but the music remains a fantastic jazzy blues, with lashings of showbiz thrown in.”

London ” At times it feels emotionally hollow but it remains thoroughly entertaining and thanks to this slick and well-oiled production the piece’s merits are given the best possible opportunity to shine.”

London News Online: **** “The Life is a real classic with an important message about loyalty and with a fabulous score and excellent cast, the production at Southwark Playhouse is a must see for fans of musical theatre.”

Theatre Bubble: **** “this production is a celebration of talent with a truly diverse cast.”

British ***** “if you want to see it as it is, not as some escapist fantasy might like you to imagine it to be, then you will find no greater pleasure than to spend a few hours in the company of these wonderful people who have brought to London’s stage, after twenty years, this astonishing and remarkable event.”

Exeunt Magazine: “Stunning harmonies, clever lyrics and jazz infused beats combine in Cy Coleman and Gasman’s score.”

There Ought to be Clowns: “It’s a sordid and occasionally desperate world but one that director Michael Blakemore, who also helmed the 1997 Broadway production, shows us also has hope and heart.”

City Am: **** “dedicated, vigorous performances”

The Guardian: *** “the inherent exuberance of the musical form militates against Zola-esque realism and, for all its energy and verve, three hours is a long time to spend in this sleazy sub-world.”

Evening Standard: **** “The standout is Sharon D Clarke. As Sonja, a veteran of 15,000 paid encounters, she’s vocally majestic and an expert with the acerbic one-liners.”

Jonathan Baz Reviews:  ***** “Scorchingly unmissable, The Life is one of the finest shows in town.”

The Life continues to play at the Southwark Playhouse until the 29th April. For more information and to book tickets visit: