Discover what is being said about the London production of Michael R Jackson’s Pulitzer-winning musical with our review round up….

(c)Marc Brenner

WhatsOnStage: **** “A Strange Loop works because it is about a sweet person battling his demons and exposing his soul.  It’s hilarious – but also emotional.”

The Guardian: **** “Ramar Freeman is magnificent as Usher. The show runs at 100 minutes straight and he is on stage for the full duration, singing superbly and capturing Usher’s vulnerability as well as his joy.”

The Independent: **** ““Winner of every best musical award on Broadway,” scream the posters for A Strange Loop, so you might expect a musical aimed at the masses. But Michael R Jackson’s critically acclaimed production is not a show you can second guess.”

iNews: ***** “A Strange Loop is the latest import from New York’s current bubble of black gay theatre, following plays by Jeremy O Harris and Robert O’Hara. Jackson’s work is more self-aware and less pompous than that of both those writers: joyous, clever and alive. Don’t miss it.”

Time Out: **** “An enormous number of musicals have opened in the West End in the last couple of months and they’re pretty much all revivals, repeats or adaptations of blockbuster films. Some of them are pretty good, but none of them have a tenth of the audacity and imagination of ‘A Strange Loop’. Twelve weeks at the Barbican is bold, but it’s going to make for an interesting summer.”

Evening Standard: ***** “Besides, what can you say about a show that is its own harshest critic? Maybe, simply this: it’s stuffed with really catchy tunes full of triumphant melodies, with big high notes, snatches of literary and musical reference constantly winking at us. It’s messy and exhausting as much as it is spectacular. It’s too long, too repetitious, too much – and I’d watch it again in an instant.”

The Telegraph: *** “Now at the Barbican, Michael R Jackson’s Pulitzer and Tony winner is a tender, tangled tale of otherness and victimhood.”

City Am: *** “The archetype of the high-soaring individual, raised into a challenging environment and breaking free, is also the sort of individualistic heroic arc that feels distinctly US and not very British. Nor is the conclusion, which tries to sum too much up instead of leaving us with questions. Oh, and one hour forty minutes straight through is too long: this needs an interval. But honestly, asides from these parts, the gulf in reception on either side of the pond is mystifying.”

Theatre Weekly: “This is a new musical that’s practically perfect, and made even more so by a breathtaking central performance from Kyle Ramar Freeman, who reprises the role from Broadway.  Freeman’s tender, soulful, and ultimately powerful portrayal of Usher is the must-see performance of this year.”

British **** “Overall, though, this show is a major and original achievement that will surely gain a lasting place in musical theatre repertory and history. In some ways it is an updated, black version of ‘Company’ – no plot, and many characters advising the central protagonist how to change his life for the better. But perhaps it has yet to evolve to its final and best iteration?”

The Arts Desk: *** “The success of Jackson’s musical suggests he already has changed the nature of the musical and claimed it for Black queer culture. But it’s a raucous evening whose high-octane approach leads to lots of competing shouting and lost lines. It’s as if director Michael Brackett has decided, let’s wow them with sheer energy, and to hell with coherence!”

West End Best Friend: ***** “Kyle Ramar Freeman, an alumna of the original Broadway company of A Strange Loop, takes on the role of Usher with an intricate and captivating nuance. His vocals soar with emotional weight and his ability to hold a room in a moment is breathtaking.”

The Stage: *** “Michael R Jackson’s celebrity-feted Broadway musical exploration of Black queer identity, starring Kyle Ramar Freeman, is both dazzling and frustrating.”

A Strange Loop continues to play at the Barbican until the 9th September 2023.


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