TITANIC – Charing Cross Theatre, London
Maury Yeston’s stirring music is brought to life by a brilliantly talented cast. Rob Houchen’s voice could fill the theatre three times over, and it’s so beautiful you can almost forgive him for not spotting the iceberg sooner. Similarly it is such a pleasure to see Niall Sheehy have so much stage time as he always brings an enormous amount of depth and emotion to a character.
But at times the script feels juvenile. Survivors turning around to tell their story is never quite as emotive as the writer thinks it is. Often no words can be far more effective than the odd standalone phrase ringing out across the auditorium. Bride (Matthew Crowe), the radio man’s silent realisation of how hopeless their situation is, is the most powerful moment of the piece and all he does is sit and bury his head in his hands.
It’s a very interesting idea for a production, in that we already know it doesn’t end well. There is a discomfort for the audience as they hear the characters talk about their new, prosperous life waiting for them in America and their admiration for the unsinkable ship. We want to listen to the songs, but we’re entirely aware of the fatal consequences of the decisions being made by the bridge. Although, if disaster films have taught us anything, it’s that if your captain is one day away from retirement it’s probably not going to be an overly successful excursion.
When your Dad is from Belfast, you aren’t fooled by sub-par Northern Irish accents. There is no doubt that it’s a difficult dialect to master for Siôn Lloyd as Andrews, the designer of the Titanic, but for a professional production more work needs to be done.
The story of those onboard the Titanic will always be one that fascinates us, but it does seem a somewhat strange choice to kill off the wrong characters, and let those who actually died survive. When you’ve decided to base a musical on the real lives of passengers, it makes sense to stick to the truth. However this is an enjoyable evening at the theatre with a cast of incredibly talented performers.
By Joanna Trainor
28th May – 6th August 2016
Charing Cross Theatre, London, WC2N 6NL