REVIEW: Falsettos, The Other Palace

This is a musical that will leave you with a tear in your eye and a smile in your heart, thanks to Tara Overfield-Wilkinson’s thoughtful and sensitive production.

(c) The Standout Company.

Prepare for warmth, laughter and tears if you are planning on coming along to see this well written musical about family and love, set in the backdrop of the growing AIDS crisis. With a standout cast and highly perceptive music and lyrics from William Finn as well as a lively book written by Finn and James Lapine – the only question is why it has taken so long to get the musical over to the UK?

Falsettos follows the story of a modern family made up of Marvin, who left his wife Trina and son Jason (who he sees on weekends) to start a relationship with Whizzer, his Psychologist Mendel and two lesbian neighbours Cordelia and Charlotte. Together they all help each through the bad times as well as the good of which there are many incidents.

Much of focus in the first act of this lively and genuinely heartfelt musical is on Marvin, Trina, Jason and Whizzer all struggling to deal with changes in their lives, explored with great perceptiveness and hilarity through numbers such as ‘Thrill of First Love’ and ‘I’m Breaking Down’ but balancing it out with more tender songs such as ‘Father to Son’. While the first act is playful and filled with petty squabbles, the second more powerfully emotional second act sharpens its focus further on just how a family rallies together in the face of crisis. Songs such as ‘You gotta die sometime’ and ‘What Would I do?’ really highlight what is important in life and show just how important good music is in helping to push a story forward to heartbreaking effect.

Set on PJ McEvoy’s cartoon-like set that also offers practical and slick changes of scenes, Tara Overfield-Wilkinson’s production strikes the balance between the comedy and petty squabbles that exist in families with how they are capable of coming together in the wake of a serious crisis with great heart, handling the issues raised with sensitivity. This is particularly highlighted when Trina is surprised by just how much she is concerned by Whizzer’s illness with ‘Holding to the Ground’ proving to be a real turning point for the character. It is a really intimate production that allows you to get to know the family and characters well.

The performances from all of the cast are immensely enjoyable. Albert Atack as Jason really offers a sympathetic but joyful performance as Jason – highlighting the character’s sense of confusion about his family in a wonderfully raw way, particularly during the climax to the show. Elsewhere, Laura Pitt-Pulford as Trina is brilliantly hilarious and increasingly compassionate as the show goes on, with her rendition of ‘I’m Breaking Down’ proving to be a real highlight and Joel Montague as the supportive and warm hearted Mendel. But all of the cast are equally strong in portraying the emotional heart of this musical.

Overall, there is much to be enjoyed about Falsettos – the story, characters and music are all particularly strong. It treads the line of poignancy and comedy with care, drawing the audience into the world of this dysfunctional but loving family to great effect.

By Emma Clarendon

Falsettos will play at The Other Palace  until the 23rd November. To book tickets click here or visit: Love Theatre.comTheatre Tickets, From the Box OfficeLast Minute.comEncore Tickets or See Tickets.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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