Destinations Magazine

Review: Company

By Antipodeanblog @antipodeanblog
Sondheim is (almost inarguably) the greatest living musical theatrecomposer. Everyone can hum a tune from one of his shows. My favouriteis one of the lesser known ones: Company.I’ve always wanted to see it live. And when I read this review of theversion currently showing in Sheffield (several hours north), Idecided it was worth the trek. I wasn’t disappointed.The appeal of Company, to me, is the way that it displaces the ideathat musical theater must have a cohesive narrative in order to work.Company sits somewhere between a typical musical and a cabaret. It’snot just songs strung together – far from it – it’s an exploration ofa theme through the medium of theater.The chosen theme is marriage. Told from the point of view ofCrucible’s Creative Director Daniel Evans’ superb Bobby, a Manhattanserial bachelor contemplating settling down as his 35th birthdayapproaches, Company offers a deconstruction of almost everything aboutmarried life. Why do people get married? Why do some unhappy coupleskeep trying? Is it worth it? Does marriage double or halve a person?Can you be truly happy if you’ve never been in love? Do you have tolove each other for marriage to work?Interestingly, director Jonathan Munby has decided to turn thisrevival into a period piece, set in  the early 1970s (when it waswritten). This is unexpected because nothing about the show has dated,and most directors set it in the present day in order to demonstratethe universal truths behind Sondheim’s observations about his marriedpeers forty years ago.Review: CompanyAnd yet, it’s still relatable as a period piece too. From the momentthe cast walk down the aisles of the theater in ghostly lit pairsdissonantly echoing Bobby’s name in the opening number, you knowyou’re in for a treat.The characters are neurotic and engaging. Francesca Annis’ portrayalof husky alcoholic man-eater Joanne is the standout performance –though of course anyone who saw Elaine Stritch in the original castwill tell you that this role usually is.Overall the show has a feeling of loneliness. Which, for Company, is avery good thing.

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