While this is the ideal way for fans of Simon & Garfunkel to experience their music and story, the way in which it is presented can mean the attention does begin to wander towards the end.
For those who enjoy and appreciate Simon & Garfunkel’s distinctive and unique brand of music, this show will certainly be right up your street. Taking audiences through their musical career, highlighting particular moments of interest as well as of course performing many of their songs (some more recognisable than others), The Simon & Garfunkel story has plenty to offer the fans.
However, for those in the audience not quite so familiar with their music although it is easy to appreciate their songwriting skills together and as soloists it is a struggle to place it all in context with their career as a whole. The pacing is gentle and easygoing, while the overall mood feels slightly sombre (although things do liven up in the second act with renditions of ‘Mrs Robinson’ and ‘Cecilia’).
Although this is of course is down in part to the thoughtfulness and poetic quality of the songs that Simon & Garfunkel created, that are beautifully performed by Philip Murray Warson (Paul Simon) and Charles Blyth (Art Garfunkel), leading to many haunting moments including renditions of ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘Kathy’s Song’. But it is also the way in which facts and information about the pair is delivered – quite stilted and awkward that forces both performers to break ‘character’ as it were and shatter the illusion that they are in fact Simon & Garfunkel which they both proved quite capable of having captured their mannerisms perfectly.
But there is still plenty to enjoy about the production – not least from the two leading performances of Philip Murray Warson and Charles Blyth, whose harmonies are spot on from ‘The Sound of Silence’ all the way through to more upbeat songs such as ‘Cecilia’. It is their performances and the way in which they treat Simon & Garfunkel’s music with such respect that keeps the audience engaged. Charles Blyth in particular has an impressive solo whistling sequence worth looking out for, while Philip Murray Warson is excellent on the guitar.
During each song, a montage of images are displayed in the background, highlighting how as each year passed their music changed and developed as a rendition of ‘Patterns’ proves. Each image selected seems to fit in perfectly with the song choice – getting the audience to sit up and really listen to the lyrics. By adding a bit of social context to their music and the performance in front of us, it does get the audience thinking about how they were able to cover numerous topics through the years – but can prove slightly distracting at times as the sequences involving cartoons such as The Flintstones and Top Cat prove – despite the sense of nostalgia they bring up.
Overall, this is a fond and nostalgic look at one of the most famous musical duos to exist and The Simon & Garfunkel Story pays a very real and sensitive tribute to them both. It is a show aimed more at fans rather than introducing a new generation to their music, which is slightly disappointing.
By Emma Clarendon
The Simon & Garfunkel Story will play at the Lyric Theatre on the 1st and 29th October and the 10th December as well as a week run at the Vaudeville theatre from the 12th to the 17th November. To book tickets click here or visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk, See Tickets, Love Theatre.com, From the Box Office, ATG Tickets or Encore Tickets .