Feathers. Check. Glitter. Check. Sharp Script. Check – La Cage Aux Folles is deliciously entertaining for those who are looking for an evening’s over the top entertainment.
La Cage Aux Folles is a total joy from beginning to end – sharp witted, fantastic performances from all of the cast and so flamboyant that you can’t help but wish that the performance went on for longer.
Based on the 1973 play of the same name by Jean Poiret, La Cage Aux Folles was transformed into a hit Broadway musical by Harvey Fierstein with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and has been deservedly revived in this lavish new production directed by Martin Connor.
At the heart of the musical is the relationship between Albin and Georges, (warmly and affectionately brought to life by John Partridge and Adrian Zmed respectively). But this relationship is made complicated when Georges’s son Jean-Michel announces that he is getting married to a girl whose father doesn’t approve of homosexuals. What follows is a tale of cover ups and finally acceptance, with the main message being never feel like you have to change for anybody – it is ok to be you.
While Martin Connor’s production takes some time to get going, there is no doubting the glamour of it all thanks to the lavishness of the set and the increasing flamboyancy of the costumes – designed by Gary McCann to add an additional burst of colour and life, while reflecting the character’s lives perfectly.
It can also be said that by the interval it is easy to see exactly where the production is heading in terms of the solving of everybody’s problems and being accepted for who they are, but the way in which it all slowly unravels during the meeting of the parents is a delight to watch.
John Partridge is delivers a wonderfully exaggerated performance as Albin, which although occasionally risks going too far at times, has plenty of heart. One example of this is when he reacts to the fact he isn’t being invited to the dinner party because of the way that he sometimes acts is surprisingly tender and heartfelt. He also offers a phenomenal performance of the iconic song ‘I Am What I Am’ that leaves the audience feeling empowered.
But he has great support surrounding him including Adrian Zmed as the calmer and more level headed Georges and Samson Ajewole’s sharply funny Jacob, a character who certainly isn’t afraid to say what he thinks – delivered with great flair.
While perhaps it doesn’t tug at the heartstrings as it could, it is still filled with lovely moments of tenderness particularly during numbers ‘With You On My Arm’ and ‘Song on the Sand’ being particular stand out songs that give the musical its emotional core.
Overall, it is a wickedly witty show with more than a hint of flamboyance in a production that never takes itself too seriously and comes across as quite endearing. A quirky charmer of a musical.