Poor, on all counts. Performance, Design, Music. The only good thing was the beautifully crafted scenes by the late George Furth and the wonderful music of Stephen Sondheim. I never thought it possible to mess Company up too much that a life-long lover of the work would dislike a production completely. This proved me wrong! - K Watson
15 Mar 11
This is exactly how I imagined Company! The cast were (on the whole) amazng. aving talked to the actors afterwards it's clear they all truely believe in the power of this show, so much more than most I talk to. I was really scared that it would not live up to my expectations at all but it surpassed them. To be fair I found the pacing of some of the songs a bit disappointing, particularly Being Alive. - RWF Howard
08 Mar 11
I preferred the Union Theatre production, both in it's pre-London tryout at Edinburgh and the London production in 2009; the Barons Court production in 2010; and the Pleasance production last December, which may account for my being stingey with the scoring.
An American friend who saw the show with me was amazed that the Southwark Playhouse was a typical example of London's equivalent to Off-Broadway (or Off-Off-Broadway). It was quite clear that next to no money had been spent on this production, but he pointed out that in the US they rely more on the fabulous creativity of the director and designer. Both here were absent!
Some nice performances, the best Joanne I have seen in comparison to all of the above mentioned productions as well as the concert performance at the Queens in November and, IMHO, the Donmar.
But the minus points outweighed the plus points by a long shot.
08 Mar 11
A real let down. Casting was poor, mainly the lead but also some of the secondary characters. Design was poor. Direction was poor. Music was good, for a small (I believe) six piece band. Pacing was poor (still, I see people were discussing this on here and on the discussion board right at the beginning of the run). I wouldn't reccommend this to anyone, and would be amazed if it transfers. - Kellie Sullivan
07 Mar 11
A decent production of a great show. If I was reviewing the creation of Sondheim and Goldman it would be a 4/3 star, but in being fair to the other revivals I have reviewed on this website, I can only give this production a 2 based on production values alone. It looked a little like a university campus production (i.e. no money spent on design), and whilst the singing was on the whole good (and in some cases superb), some of the performances were lacking. It's unfair to single out particular performers, one way or the other, however I have to say that some performances owed more to cartoon that creation!
I disagree with a lot of posts here and thought Rupert Young's performance was solid, real and heartbreaking. I loved his Being Alive. - Warren Stevens
04 Mar 11
I enjoyed the show, but it is not a brilliant show, not even a brilliant fringe show. Comparing it to the Union's Assassins last year this show is seriously lacking. The actual content was superb, Sondheim's songs sparkle as always and the book is funny. It is let down by direction and dance, in my humble opinion, and some poor casting choices, in significance the lead! - Margie Robinson
02 Mar 11
Perhaps it is because I am Sondheim'd out (particular as I managed to see four fantastic productions of this show last year in London) but I wasn't impressed at all with what the Southwark Playhouse had to offer. I thought "hey, it's Company, one of the greatest musicals created" what can be so bad. Sadly, a lot! Updating it with iPhones and gadgets was first and foremost a stupid idea. Rather like what happened with Anyone Can Whislte years ago at the Bridewell. "Look, I can sing into a phone because I am trying to call you"...Joe Fredericks has directed an uneven show with some characters coming across as mere cariacatures (sadly Siobhan McCarthy’s Joanne owed more to Edina Monsoon on the night I saw it, Mark Curry was doing his best panto skit, and Rupert Young could have done a lot more to suggest that the character of Robert was someone who we might want to see more of, rather than close our MacPad everytime he appeared.
Pacing is all over the place, oddly. The show has a sentimentality that seems ridiculous against a sweaty, brusqe and curt interpretation from its central character. Even the (it appears from the messages here, shocking) inclusion of coke in Side by Side seems nostalgic toward the fabulous Donmar version (was it really over fifteen years ago?)!
As is always the case with Company, the show is written for women. Cassidy Janson Katie Brayben and Michelle Bishop steal the show. There were also some nice touches, Sorry Grateful being one of them (and also one of the nicest interpretations of that song I have seen for a long time). But these small pluses do not a good show make. Sadly, the whole was no where near as good as the sum of its parts and I left the theatre feeling as if I had been to a relatively good dress rehearsal of a fringe show. It could do with room to breathe and develop, but there would need to be a recast (at least a partial recast) and some major revisions to directoral and choreographical choices.
01 Mar 11
I enjoyed some of the show, I could not fault the performances, and the singing was great. It just didn't appear to be a cohesive show. Some wonderful moments, others rushed and appearingly not thought about, whilst other moments dragged for all eternity. I loved You Could Drive a Person Crazy, with the girlfriends extracting pieces of clothing, it was very funny. I loved I'm Not Getting Married Today and Ladies Who Lunch. The lead actor was not as good as previous Roberts I have seen. - Tilly Finsbury
28 Feb 11
I would have demanded my money back, were it not for Cassidy's performance as Amy and an amazing Ladies Who Lunch from Siobhan McCarthy! - Ronnie C
25 Feb 11
I agree, it was a disaster but it wasn't exceptionally good. It would be too generous to afford it three stars because there are some serious deficiencies. I think if it had been publicised as a fringe production, like the marvellous Union Theatre production, it would have been more truthful. I was expecting West End calibre and sadly I only got that from CJ as Amy. As a Sondheim Society member I did like it, perhaps more than others on here, but I have seen better last December, and in July 2009! I too found myself a bit startled at so much being very similar to other productions (including, and yes for the hundreth time mentioned, the Donmar!). Southwark should be applauded for producing a musical, however. Company works exceptionally well in the thrust, the Barons Court production last summer was sublime for that very reason, and I hope to see more Sondheim at the Southwark Playhouse. I think, to be completely fair, the Playhouse just needs to pitch its performances correctly. This is not a major revival, but a reasonably good fringe effort. Sadly, for Company at least, in the last two or three years there have been better efforts in London. - DD
25 Feb 11
A ridiculously slow start got better throughout the first act. Some really poor direction in the first act and some stolen choreography was not highlight style stuff. Sniffing cocaine off of a mobile phone is not inventive, it is basically replacing a chair with a mobile phont (from the Donmar production). Production values are low. Now, the good, the cast are excellent (almost all, some terrible accents and a few seem very under-rehearsed, so much so I had to check and see if there had been a recast!). Rupert Young is not right for Bobby and didn't give the character enough emotional drive to take us to Being Alive. It seemed shallow, both in performance and overall design. - Leo Faricy
25 Feb 11
Just not good enough to be classed as a major production. It was lesser Ediburgh fringe at best. Bad, or no, direction, under designed (a lot can be achieved on a small budget, look at what still goes on at the Bridewell!) and over acted. Astounding performances from Amy, Sarah, Joanne and April. All of the men were miscast, unfortunately. - Lydia Baron
24 Feb 11
I have tried to be fair, given the fact that most comments here are either fully supportive or fully against.
Choreography: 0.5/1 (some good, some taken from the Donmar)
Performances: 1/1 (could not fault them)
I cannot help but agree with the person who posted below that this should have not been billed as a 'major' new revival. It was not. Company deserves more than this.
I would have given as extra star, because it is Sondheim's best score and the book is brilliant, but frankly the performers earned that star alone, direction was almost non-existent!
- B Beagrie
23 Feb 11
Really enjoyed it. Confused about the below postings but I guess each to their own! You can tell money was scrimped on lighting and costumes and set but it is fringe people! The acting, singing, direction etc were all spot on in my opinion. Anyway thought it was a really fun evening and I went when Jonathon Ross gave a standing ovation so he obviously enjoyed it too! - CJ
23 Feb 11
Cheap production of a show I love. Do not call a show a major revival if it is not going to be. I expected better design and certainly better direction. - R Trevellis
23 Feb 11
I really wanted to give this show a great chance, as it really is one of my favourites but it was bad. One of Sondheim's greatest musicals has been bashed over the head with a sledgehammer and then made to crawl pace wise through the longest Act 1 I have had the misfortune to sit through and a series of lifts from not only the Donmar production but a hell load of others. I agree with everyone below, the cast were good and have been let down by poor direction. - June Walker
22 Feb 11
Very Poor sums this up. No direction, whatever money they did have was obviously spent paying plants to write reviews! Seriously let down by this production. - Hannah Ives
22 Feb 11
I went to see the show last night and thought it was terrific! I'm baffled by some of the truly viscous comments below?! I imagine they are all from actors/performers/production members that failed to get a part or join the team! They are all obviously jealous at what they have created on what is obviously a very tight budget ( Its fringe! and thank god, spend the money on the band and the sound and a 14 piece cast and 6 piece band! Brave move very rare!) Fredericks direction is solid and refreshing. I thought the costumes were believable and bought enough colour without being characature, I'm sure they did have to bring some of thier own bits in but this should be applauded on their behalf, but good choices across. The design is simple and effective and looks classy. the lighting is far from your usual colourful durdge and makes for some interesting settings. The band is amazing. The company are all brilliant. The whole team need to be applauded for delivering a good looking, good sounding great piece of work under what was probably tough circumstances. And for all the nit pickers and evil theatre goers below...Up your bum. - Matt B
20 Feb 11
I love it so much that I was prepared to be disappointed and having read Libby Purves review I thought I might not like Rupert Young's Bobby but I have to tell you that I thought it was FANTASTIC, I loved every second and didn't even think about the fact that I sat on a bench for 3 hours!!
In fact, if I can get a ticket, I'm going to see it again.
I realise now that I know every word of every song (Except "Marry me a Little" which isn't on my CD.) and singling out anyone for special mention is very difficult. Cassidy Janson's "Not Getting Married" was amazing, I could see the tears in her eyes as she was singing and Rupert Young's "Being Alive" brought tears to my eyes and that doesn't happen that often. But it's not really fair to single out anyone because this was a whole piece, wonderful singing, great acting, great band and I don't agree with Libby Purves, or maybe Rupert has tightened up his character since her review.
To be really nit-picky, the only things I think could be improved on are Rupert's hair; not very New York and I was willing Siobhan McCarthy to move just a bit more during "Ladies who Lunch". Her rendition of the song was fantastic, I never thought anyone could match Elaine Stritch but she did. (There is a concert version of Elaine Stritch singing on YouTube, terrific).
I got chatting to a couple of people whilst we were in the queue who had a friend in the cast and the younger girl had trained as an actor, and we sat together and they thought it was fantastic too as I think did the whole audience. It seems such a pity that this show will only last for 6 weeks as it certainly deserves a longer run and much more recognition, any chance?
Congratulations to everyone involved, the best thing I've seen for a long time.
19 Feb 11
This is a revelatory production that restores the edge to a ground breaking musical.
Over the years Company has become mired in bland revivals that have established a uniform way of staging the piece. Refreshingly, on this occasion, there’s no retro costumes to coo over, or even a hardboard New York skyline that lights up like a cheesy cabaret lounge (this maybe is what some of our friends commenting below are missing) Instead we get a darker glimpse at the psyche of a commitmentphobe – surely what Sondhiem and his team were intending rather then yet another breezy jaunt through some high-gloss musical comedy turns.
Perhaps the most striking thing about this production is the unusually “straight” portrayal of Bobby. As I’ve written elsewhere this is the first time I’ve seen the show where the obvious sexuality of the leading actor hasn’t coloured our ideas of why he cant commit to women. For once Bobby, as played by Rupert Young, is a creature of the sports bar rather then the piano bar and so the show, freed of any is-he-or-isn’t-he-gay baggage, becomes far more nuanced.
Throughout director Joe Fredericks and his team deliver a series of subtle innovations that help us see the show afresh. There’s just enough iphone detritus to keep things up-to-date without swamping us with a “concept” and I particularly enjoyed little touches like the gentle tango the couples dance in the half-light through the song Sorry Grateful and how the dated Andrews Sisters parody has been re-imagined as a bed hopping routine for Bobby’s girlfriends.
Even the venue seems to invite us to look at the piece in a new way, reminiscent as it is of the subway and tube platforms where so many fleeting urban encounters take place every time “Another Hundred People Just Got Off Of the Train”.
This production cleanly hasn’t delivered enough “I Heart New York” Manhattan for some people but personally I’m glad this team jettisoned all that phoniness for something far more profound – and it’s worth remembering that this show was first staged on a simple series of levels with an elevator at the centre.
Mokia Grit’s production restores the simplicity and darkness with dazzling results.
19 Feb 11
I saw the production last week and was so encouraged by the strength of the ensemble cast. A real rarity to have such a quality of musical theatre actors playing on the fringe and all of whom where of the right age for the piece. The band equally are the best i've heard in a very long time on this size of production. In a time where internet dating is rife and countless people in their 30s are yet to settle down i felt that the update to modern age was very apt. - Alison Fairgrieve
18 Feb 11
I went to see the show last Monday evening. Loved it! the music , choreography and acting were to a West-End standard, and I was completely immersed in the themes and portrayals.i would recommend it to anyone who wants an engaging, and provocative piece of musical theatre. - Andy Cox
18 Feb 11
I think I must have been watching a totally different show from some of the others on here. I went to see Company, having heard an interview with Joe Fredericks and some of the cast on the radio, knowing nothing about Sondheim or Company and was absolutely delighted with the entire evening. The theatre is a really lovely space with a great bar for pre evening and interval drinks. The space is wonderfully atmostpheric and conjured up New York perfectly with the gentle rumble of trains occasionally seeping through. From the opening number to the end I was just enthralled. The music is incredible. Sondheim a genious. The cast is incredible and looking at the brochure I realised why. They are all from major west end shows, National Theatre or the RSC. And it shows! As mentioned before by others here Cassidy Janson as Amy is unbelievable and I loved Katie Brayben as April and Julia Nagle as Susan immensley. The direction throughout is very strong and consistent, with themes running succinctly through the piece. At times this piece is incredibly funny with the whole audience laughing out loud and that is from both a great script but also some very clever direction and great comic timing. I loved that it was brought up to date and set in the present day because it's a story which is so relevant today - perhaps even more than it was in the '70's. And just because everyone is jumping on the fashionable retro bandwagon, with the success of shows like Man Med, I think this was a brave and inspired idea. This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening for anyone who wants a bit of a laugh, to see some excellent actors, hear some incredible music and have a great evening. Perhaps it was a courageous production but one that matched in terms of quality any West End theatre production I've seen. - Roger
18 Feb 11
Got to say this is not a good production. There is NO direction. Booby doesn't show any crisis or even interest in other relationships. Joanne doesn't have any character. Thank God for CJ's Amy! I also liked Julia Nagle's Susan - one of the show's hardest characters, and Kathy, a small but essential role. This is not an easy show to do, so don't treat it like the audience will simply enjoy the well known score. - BK
18 Feb 11
Under-cast, under designed and under directed. Over-miked and over-acted. A truly horrid version of a great show. One or two nice performances, Katie Brayben especially so. Siobhan McCarthy kills the second half of the show (and not in a good way) and murders Ladies Who Lunch, honking her way tunelessly through it and never finding any irony or pathos. No design to speak of, dreary lighting, horrible costumes that look unlike anything ever worn by real people, and - criminally - no sense of New York or of any real place at all. Also quite a few elements and ideas stolen wholesale from the Donmar production - did you not think we'd notice?!
This is a great musical and deserves a fine fringe production. This isnt it. - wilbur jones
16 Feb 11
I was surprised at how affecting this was. As always with Sondheim, you get incredibly insightful and touching song lyrics but unfortunately I felt the quality of singing was variable which spoiled things a little. However, it is still an excellent production despite it's apparent on-a-shoestring budget. Still highly recommended despite its limitations. - Mark W
15 Feb 11
My rating should have been 4 stars - PW
12 Feb 11
Poor, sadly. Really quite poor. The production looks as though no money has been spent on it, the costumes are hideous and cheap. Lighting design is almost non-existent.
Performances are excellent in many cases, some are not. A marvellous performance from Cassidy Jackson who steals the show.
The show needs a good director. This wasn't directed well. In some places I think it wasn't directed at all.
Rupert Young just is not Bobby! I'm hoping he will grow into the role. That said, Being Alive was lovely.
- Rita Fitzgerald
11 Feb 11
It was a bit of a risk going to see this Sondheim show just three months (to the day) after the Donmar’s extraordinary concert staging and less than two years after the Union Theatre’s excellent production, but it’s a risk which paid off. This is a fresh look at the show in a contemporary setting which works very well indeed. The life and experiences of central character, singleton Bobby, are if anything more believable today, 40 years after its first outing. His friends, five couples, are relentless in their pressure on him to settle down, though this hides their jealousy; to some extent, they are living their lives through him. Each couple has their own story which weaves in and out of Bobby’s with three very different girlfriends. This production reveals the play inside the musical without losing the impact of the extraordinary songs. It’s edgier and sexier and really does seem like it was written yesterday. The bare staging is very much like the Union production – you don’t have to do much to conjour up a Manhattan loft apartment in a space beneath the railway arches! The band is hidden in a space behind one of three banks of seats (good to see them come out and take a well deserved bow at the end). Yet again, the casting director (on this occasion, Menier co-founder Danielle Tarento) has done a cracking job. The couples each have real chemistry. As a chorus they dance well and sound great – the title song and Act II opener are both terrific. Michelle Bishop sang ‘Another Hundred People’ better than I’ve ever heard it before. Cassidy Janson climbed the mountain that is ‘Getting Married Today’ with a real manic intensity. Siobhan McCartney was an excellent Joanna, though I felt ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ was a little harsh, adding passion at the expense of musicality. Rupert Young has yet to fully inhabit the very challenging role of Bobby, but it was only his 5th performance. Director Joe Fredericks and his team are to be warmly congratulated for this fresh look at a modern musical classic, taking risks which paid off and providing some definitive and thrilling moments.
- Gareth James
07 Feb 11
I was filled with apprehension about a production of ‘Company’ at the southwark playhouse. There is something about fringe musicals at the moment, which just fills me with, dread. However it WAS ‘Company’ so at least the show is good. However my fears were completely unfounded. This is a great production. I am shocked at how good it was. Truly. I wanted to hate it with and I told you it was crap’ attitude, but, behold, it was good.
It starts a bit am-dram with a horrible ‘bobby’s funeral nightmare’ sequence, but that’s the only part which is really misguided. The updating of the show is alright, but unnecessary, and it gets into trouble a bit when people on mobiles say ‘the line is busy’ instead of voicemail, or Joanne smokes in a club without mention of smoking bans, however these are nit-picking things rather than points of extreme awfulness.
Great musical direction, predominantly brilliant performances (especially from Cassidy Janson, Siobahan McCarthy and Katie Brayben), effective set design and nicely measured direction.
My only quibbles are with the truly disgusting costumes (as if no thought what so ever has gone into them and the cast were just asked to bring in something) They distract by their sheer hideousness and do nothing for characterization, period, or anything at all. I’d suggest the production team rectify this, as it’s really the only sour point. Primark was invented for fringe shows for a reason.
A note again to the production team, I had to suffer you wildly gesticulating, scribbling notes and chatting during the show. This was REALLY irritating. Can you just write and talk after? And nobody likes a production team who laugh at gags the rest of the audience don’t find funny, makes you look like twats, which you’re obviously not.
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