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Review: Pippin - Menier Chocolate Factory, London

Pippin
Harry Hepple & Carly Bawden
Photo by Tristram Kenton
Wednesday 8th February 2012: Pippin, the son of Emperor Charlemagne, is on a journey of self discovery and enters his video game world to experience war, politics and seduction before settling down at the end.
Well, at least I think that was the plot of this rather odd musical.

Don't get me wrong, the set and visuals are really good, an industrial climbing frame with a lot of projections on it, but sometimes there is too much projection, and often it is difficult to see it with the lighting (an LD's nightmare).
Stephen Schwartz' score has a late 70's - early 80's feel about it, with its rock guitar riffs, hammond organs and punchy drums. Nothing stands out musically though, it's not one of those where you come away singing the songs you have just heard.
Keeping in theme with computer game world we are in, most of the cast are wearing skin tight, silver lycra unitards, apart from Pippin who is in jeans and t-shirt.

Frances Ruffelle
Photo by Tristram Kenton
The cast do their best with this score, Harry Hepple (Pippin) has a nice voice, Matt Rawle (Narrator) plays a good part with a great vocal range, Carly Bawden (Catherine) is a delight to watch. Frances Ruffelle (Fastrada) plays the sultry stepmother with some lovely singing, and Josie Lawrence (Grandmother) comes on and gives a great performance for her scene, even getting the audience to sing along after removing the "fourth wall"

But I feel something is missing from this show... ah yes, a plot that is easy to follow would have helped.
None the less, I rather enjoyed my trip to the Menier Chocolate Factory and I saw some fine talent on show.


Josie Lawrence is in the show until Sunday 12th Feb
Pippin is then running until 25th February www.menierchocolatefactory.com

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