Company – Gielgud Theatre until 30th March

★★★★★

Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer

Where to start on something that is so perfect that it defies belief, for, Company is the very definition of perfection in my opinion. From the opening to the closing moment time just flashes by, such are the performances delivered by the whole cast.

Composer Stephen Sondheim‘s Company is a series of vignettes centred around the leading actor Bobby. Of course, we’ve all heard that this production has been cleverly reimagined by director Marianne Elliott, in close consultation with the great man himself, and is leading character gender reversed. We have a window into ‘Bobbie’s’ life, played by Rosalie Craig. The story centers around her 35th birthday, how she feels about it and her friends i.e the company she keeps.

Photo Credit Brinkhoff-Mogenburg

A clever concept and makes for interesting viewing, which hasn’t lost its relevance even after all these years. It’s kept the contemporary feeling that challenges stereotypes – Why must you have a partner to be happy? What constitutes success or indeed happiness now?

Of course it’s not just the lead character which has had a gender reversal, but quite simply this has no relevance – enjoy this spectacular piece of theatre for what it is. Don’t get hung up on what it has been in the past because I can assure you when you leave you will only be thinking of its current format – it is genius!

Photo Credit Brinkhoff-Mogenburg

Rosalie Craig as Bobbie shows us all her characters vulnerability. You feel her huge peer pressures, to be in the right position in life’s journey. Sure, her friends mean well and offer advice, introductions, or a push in the right direction. But it’s refreshing to see that Craig embraces her characters strengths. Her pure vocals really came to the forefront in Marry Me a Little and the tremendous climax production number, Being Alive. 

It goes without saying that the show stopping, scene stealing moment came from Patti Lupone as Joanne in The Ladies Who Lunch. I’m sure both young and old alike will have a clear understanding and affiliation to this songs sentiments. The fierce Ms Lupone encapsulates what it is to have star quality and stage presence like no other.

Photo Credit Brinkhoff-Mogenburg

Other highlights for me came from George Blagden as PJ singing Another Hundred People. Mel Giedroyc whose comic timing was fully utilised as Sarah. In Getting Married Today Jonathan Bailey, Alex Gaumond really held the audience with their pre-wedding jitters and the whole scene was a treat.

In summary

It’s rare to see something as iconic and groundbreaking in its time, reimagined and working so well that you forget previous encounters of it. Company delivers on every level and more. It is truly an exquisite production with bright and imaginative staging, which grips the audience. Even I, in my slightly restricted view seat, did not want this show to end and with the new extension just announced, I will be crashing my diary to go and see it again before the run finishes.

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