Evita at the Mayflower, Southampton

The Kite Runner is at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until Saturday.

REVIEW: The Kite Runner at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

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The big Mayflower stage suits this big-hearted, gutsy musical which contains some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best known - and best - music, and it’s good to hear it in its dramatic context.

For instance, the recurring refrain of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina provides more levels of irony and meaning than when heard as the familiar stand- alone ballad.

The heart of the show is of course Evita herself, and Portsmouth-born Abigail Jaye gives a very good account of the character’s journey from good-time girl ruthlessly discarding lovers to the magisterial and equally ruthless ‘queen’ of her adoring people.

She has a rich, powerful voice with a full range; she evokes the character’s elegance and power while revealing the bitterness she felt towards the upper classes, who never accepted her.

The historical Eva was complex, championing the poor while lining her own pocket, and this production gives us the political tensions and contradictions through its choreography and staging. Despite being freighted with so much familiarity, this production is a powerful evening of musical theatre.