La Cage at the Open Air - as life affirming as ever!
“Marry her? You’re a boy. She’s a girl. What will you talk about?”
If you’re only counting seats Regents Park Open Air Theatre may not be the largest venue in London. But it certainly has the highest ceiling. As the evening turns the sky paints a deep emerald green band above the purple stage set. As if it were planned, it’s a perfect backdrop for the bitter-sweet nostalgia of Georges’s “Song on the Sand”. (Disclaimer: The occurrence and duration of such meteorological effects cannot be guaranteed for every evening performance.)
One hopes those folk have other suitable forms of entertainment. But they would be hard put to equal Cage‘s opening explosion onto the stage of Ten Drag Queens, followed by the terrific solo numbers of Chantal (Jordan Lee Davies), Hanna (Jack Allan-Anderson), and Phaedra (Gorge Lynham).
While we’re recovering from that, Stage Manager Francis (Hemi Yeroham) – maestro of the marathon mic lead – takes us backstage where Georges (Billy Carter)’s partner, and star of the show, Albin (Carl Mullaney) is having a meltdown. Age is stalking him and the only defence is increasing doses of cosmetics. Georges reassures him, but he is hiding a deadly secret of his own.
Like many other long-standing couples, Georges and Albin have bickered, bantered, and bargained their way through the years. “I de-boned a chicken for your dinner,” says Albin. “Where were you?” But they are also deeply in love and their relationship has survived the ups and downs of show business life. Until now… What will happen when Georges reveals his secret? And denies his partner, for what he believes is a good cause?
Albin’s response is to sing “I Am What I Am.” A ballad that goes from heart-wrenching despair to triumphant affirmation and brings the audience to its feet for the end of Act One.
Is this a peak too soon? Because Act Two has its weaknesses. The dance energy is undiminished, but to coach a reluctant Albin to act like a man slows the pace and would sit better in a “Carry On Up the Cage” parody. Some songs carry a whiff of cheese. But whether cheddar or camembert is hard to say since even the characters seem uncertain which country they live in.
Hmm… Is this someone’s nightmare? And are all Tynesiders such notorious bigots?
We Are What We Are
(A Little More) Mascara
With Anne on My Arm
With You on My Arm
Song on the Sand
La Cage aux Folles
I Am What I Am
Song on the Sand (Reprise)
Look Over There
The Best of Times
Look Over There” (Reprise)
La Cage aux Folles” (Reprise)
La Cage Aux Folles
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Based on the play by Jean Poiret
Directed by Tim Sheader
Jordan Lee Davies
Director: Tim Sheader
Choreographer: Stephen Mear and Ebony Molina
Set Designer: Colin Richmond
Costume Designer: Ryan Dawson Laight
Musical Supervisor and Arranger: Sarah Travis
Lighting Designer: Howard Hudson
Sound Designer: Nick Lister for Autograph
Wigs, hair and make-up Designer: Guy Common
Musical Director:Ben van Tienen
Orchestrator Jason Carr
Musical supervisor: Jennifer Whyte
Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval
Extended and Booking until 23rd August 2023
Open Air Theatre
London NW1 4NU
Phone: 0333 400 3562
Tube: Baker Street
Reviewed by Brian Clover
at the Open Air
on 16th August 2023