LE BOSSU – Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh.
It’s always disappointing when a company whose work you adored in their debut at the fringe, returns with a show that whilst still having its moments, is somehow missing that special something which made their first outing so magical.
Thus is the case with devising company’s WithWings’ latest show Le Bossu. Similarly to their 2014 triumph The Duck Pond the company have taken a well known tale (then Swan Lake, now The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and turned it into an hour long ensemble driven show that features dance, song and plenty of audience participation. Whilst The Duck Pond had plenty of the above it also had a genius storytelling element, by turning the relationship of the swan and the prince completely on its head and making a simple fairytale into a sparkling gay love story.
That element is unfortunately missing in their latest show which more or less sticks closely to Victor Hugo’s work, whilst retaining certain elements of the Disney adaptation. This should make things easy, but there is some muddled story telling with characters who are never fully developed and disappear and a central love story that isn’t given the stage time to reap the emotional rewards the company is clearly reaching for.
A highlight of both shows is the musical scoring which is brilliantly catchy, haunting and sets the mood perfectly. It is performed with some stunning vocal arrangements and the composer Christian Eccles-Cannon is a name to watch and someone we can only hope hope will develop a fully fledged musical at some point. There is some imaginative staging, particularly with the three human bells who provides some slight comic relief, but lots of it was on the floor of the stage – completely unseen by anyone further back than the front row. The musical moments make this show worth a visit but it sadly lacks the emotional punch of this promising company’s previous work.
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By Rory Maxwell
Reviewed on 12/8/16
Until 21st August
Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh.