Theatre Review: Victor/Victoria - Southwark Playhouse ✭✭✭✭

Southwark Playhouse 

I usually judge how successful a musical production has been by how many times I want to jump and click my heels on the way home afterwards. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was travelling alone and didn’t want to embarrass myself on the tube, Victor/Victoria would have set a new record and had me heel-clicking all the way from Southwark to Stonebridge: it was fantastic!

The musical started life as a film in 1982, starring Julie Andrews in the title role, before making its debut on Broadway in 1995. This new production by Thom Southerland cuts out a few of the original songs to form a slick and sharp comedy that still has some interesting points to make about gender identity eighty years on from its setting of Gay Parie in the 1930s.

The story focuses on struggling soprano Victoria Grant, who is convinced by her new friend Caroll Todd (‘Toddy’) to seek fame and fortune by reinventing herself as ‘Count Victor Grazinski, the world’s greatest female impersonator’. But problems arise when she falls in love with King Marchand, a Chicago gangster who isn’t keen to let people think he’s got a boyfriend. Victoria is faced with the choice of losing her career or the love of her life.

Whilst the original material is at times a little ropey (the songs aren’t as memorable as those in the more famous musicals from this period, and the relationship between articulate feminist Victoria and meathead gangster King is a little implausible), in this production, it didn’t matter: the actors were having so much fun that the audience couldn’t help but enjoy themselves too. Anna Francolini was absolutely outstanding as Victoria, more than capably stepping into Julie Andrews’s shoes and lending the role real energy and depth; whilst Richard Dempsey was brilliantly arch and camp as her wingman Toddy. Indeed, the relationship between these two was so heartfelt and well-acted that it almost upstaged the main love story between Victoria and King (Matthew Cutts).

The production also made great use of the space available, with cabaret-style tables and a wheel-on piano adding to the feel of a 1930s jazz-club. The live band members were also fantastic, particularly in the two setpiece songs ‘Le Jazz Hot’ and ‘Chicago, Illinois’.

All in all, the energy and enthusiasm of everyone involved in this production was palpable and I’d really recommend it to anyone who needs an escape from the dark and chilly November evenings. I guarantee you’ll leave with a smile on your face!

Four stars out of five ✭✭✭✭

Review by Emma Curry



Southwark Playhouse
The Vault
Shipwright Yard
(Corner of Tooley St. and
Bermondsey St)

Box Office: 020 7407 0234

Nearest Rail/Tube: London Bridge Northern line/Jubilee line

Thursday October 25 – Saturday December 15 

Monday - Saturday at 7.30pm
Saturday matinee at 3.00pm

Press night: Thursday 1 November at 7.30pm

Tickets: £10.00 £16.50 £22.50 
airline style pricing, the earlier you book, 
the cheaper the tickets

£27.50 tickets for reserved seats on cabaret tables close to stage (the price includes a glass of champagne)