REVIEW: Sunset Boulevard at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

I dislike Sunset Boulevard. Let me expand on that '“ I hate Sunset Boulevard.

Wednesday, 17th January 2018, 9:48 am
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 6:32 pm
Ria Jones in Sunset Boulevard

Or, at least, I did until I saw the current touring version, which is in Southampton this week.

To begin with, Adrian Kirk’s orchestra take Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score and gift it to the audience like a huge oceanic swell. It is both terrifying and gorgeous, deep and resonant.

The ensemble, too, make an awe-inspiring sound and it’s a hats-off to the intricate movement and choreography. Colin Richmond’s set moves as much as the cast, often carrying the players as it goes and dancing round others as it sails across the stage.

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The principal cast are uniformly excellent, with Portsmouth’s own Adam Pearce rumbling and soaring his way through Max. Molly Lynch is engaging and bright as Betty, and Dougie Carter impresses mightily as Joe Gillis.

Carter’s scenes with Ria Jones as faded and failed film star Norma Desmond, who expresses and gives form to her desire for him – a man some 40 years her junior – are genuinely squirm-in-your-seat disturbing.

Ah, Ria Jones. How those huge, belted notes come from this diminutive actress is a mystery, but come they do, and her playing of Norma’s desperate descent into madness is horribly magnificent to watch. Worth every penny of your ticket money.

Until Saturday.