This revival marks the 50th anniversary of the original ‘let’s get naked, spliff smoking-infused musical’ that first landed on the shores in 1968. It was at the time a direct ‘screw the establishment’ commentary. Anti-war, then the conflict in Vietnam, and today its message is as strong as ever. With a snippet of Trump’s inauguration speech used over the overture to emphasise the fact he may take us down the same path, but it will be North Korea this time around.
Director Jonathan O’Boyle has remained faithful to the concept created by writers Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt Macdermot. We are at a ‘love in’ where brightly and vivid colour streamers are threaded through the chicken wire of the venue’s ceiling, incense is burning and perhaps due to the fact that the theatre has very little air con the temptation was to disrobe and get into the mood of the piece at both a physical and spiritual level. The show transports the audience back in time to create an ‘as if you were there moment’. Andy Coxon as Berger and most notably Natalie Green as Cassie, and also playing the role of Mom, both excel and have vocal ranges that handled the score with ease; impressive and melodic.
This production is an exuberant one, full of life and poignancy and when the now recognisable numbers are performed – Aquarius, Let the Sunshine In and I Got Life, the cast are in total sync and as the finale approaches and the futility of war is emphasised even further, the sense of aspiration achieved by this production is actually very moving. Very pleasurable to view and as a musical with a harsh and political message to put across, it is unrivalled and if history is about to repeat itself, God forbid, this is a very timely warning.