Evita at The Kings Theatre, Southsea REVIEW: ‘This current touring version is a very mixed bag’

Mike Sterling as Juan Peron and Lucy O'Byrne as Eva Peron, centre left and right in Evita. Picture by Pamela Raith
Mike Sterling as Juan Peron and Lucy O'Byrne as Eva Peron, centre left and right in Evita. Picture by Pamela Raith

The current touring version of Evita,  at The Kings this week, is a very mixed bag.

Of the three principal parts, Peron is the least satisfactorily written. However, Mike Sterling – go to the top of the class. Probably the finest Peron I’ve seen – and I’ve seen Perons aplenty – this is a nuanced performance, and the almost-recitative dialogue between Peron and Eva as she dies is a revelation. Great voice, too.

Lucy O’Byrne is the most soprano of Evas with a beautiful voice that shifts easily to the belt that Elaine Paige used for her entire performance, and the acid test for any Eva – Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina – is beautiful and thoughtful and sincere. Her You Must Love Me was understated, underplayed and beautiful.

Sadly, Glenn Carter, while fine of voice, is simply too old for the 17-to-24-year-old Che Guevara. A peek at his Wikipedia entry will tell you by how far.

The ensemble needs a shot in the arm. One got the feeling that a lot of their work was ‘Evita By Numbers’ and scenes that should inspire (particularly the finale to the first act, A New Argentina) lacked any lustre they once may have had. This may be unfair on the performers – it could be down to poor direction and unimaginative choreography. I appreciate the limitations of the stage, but A New Argentina represents millions of Argentines rising in support of Peron; here we had half-a-dozen ensemble with some very uninspiring placards and a very empty stage.

Overall – very average.