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BrumHour was invited to see The Playboy Of The West Indies by Birmingham Rep.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/brumhour
Review: Playboy Of The West Indies at Birmingham Rep
⭐⭐⭐⭐ A charmingly told musical.
Written by Mustapha Matura, directed by Clement Ishmael, Nicolas Kent and Dominique Le Gendre.
Mayaro, Trinidad: Stanley (Derek Elroy) wants to marry Peggy (Gleanne Purcell-Brown) who looks after a local Rum bar. One day a young man called Ken (Durone Stokes) turns up and says he has recently killed his bully of a father in a nearby settlement. News spreads of Ken’s story, and soon locals are turning up at the bar to see this young man for themselves.
This is an updated version of The Playboy of the Western World by John Millington Synge. Originally set in Ireland, it is now a musical transported to Trinidad. It features a hugely passionate cast who are talented and joyful in their approach. The musical currently runs at just over two hours and forty minutes. Perhaps it could benefit from a song or two being removed to keep up the pace, but on the first viewing it is difficult to know what would deserve the chop. The narrative easily flows from one section to the next really harking back to its source material.
The single set of the Rum bar is formed of two huge rotating sections, these become the rear walls of the bar and the back drop is the clear sky with a huge full moon rising over the night scenes.
Angela Wynter plays Mama Benin and steals every scene she appears with her comedic timing and lovely vocals. West End actor Durone Stokes shines as the mysterious yet charming leading man. Gleanne Purcell-Brown delivers an understated performance as the shy yet strong minded Peggy.
The orchestra sit between us and the cast and their music is sometimes a little louder than the vocals and something which can be easily fixed. The clothing really harked back to the late 50s and early 60s but it was fairly timeless apart from being clearly set before mobile phones.
The shows programme features a list of local phrases and slang which might be confusing to some of the audience, so paying attention is essential. There were plenty of these that I recognised from my youth.
A charmingly told musical, Playboy Of The West Indies is at Birmingham Rep until 2nd July 2022. Book tickets here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/playboy-of-the-west-indies.