Review: Gypsy, Chichester Festival Theatre

Rehearsals for Hedda Gabler by The Bench, April 2018. Picture by Jacquie Penrose PPP-180504-122002006

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Once again Chichester Festival Theatre shows the rest of the country how it’s done.

Jonathan Kent’s new production of Gypsy both glitters and sleazes it’s way through the two-and-a-half hours’ traffic of its stage and comes perilously close to being perfect.

The show is essentially a two-horse race, the focus being very much on the characters of Rose and her daughter Louise. But as Rose’s love-interest, Herbie, Kevin Whately does a good line in fighting back for the boys.

In terms of the show, I’ve never thought that relationship convincing, but Whately makes you believe.

Louise, the mother-damaged daughter, is given brilliant life by the beautiful Lara Pulver who pulls off the transition from dowdy insecurity to the greatest Burlesque stripper in the world with conviction, style and great vocals.

And then there’s Imelda Staunton.

The diminutive Ms Staunton towers, mightily, as the repulsive Rose, the mother who lives vicariously through her daughters, but eventually cracks under the pressure – and Staunton paints a finely-detailed picture of a breakdown here, particularly in Rose’s Turn, the last big number of the show.

But not even Ms Staunton can outshine the astonishingly brilliant, talented children in the cast.