MAN OF LA MANCHA | London, Coliseum

This Tony award-winning 1965 musical has not graced the London stage for over fifty years. Based on Cervantes’s own 16th-century imprisonment and subsequent creation of Don Quixote, the tale is still well-suited to a modern audience, enveloped in fake news and polarised societies. As we witness the ‘madness’ of Don Quixote, the script forces viewers to consider how far truth matters, when measured against what is right.

The musical treads a fine balance between reality and creation – something which is mirrored perfectly in its staging (directed by Lonny Price). Set around a make-shift stage, the ensemble comes to life with a variety of props, ad hoc instruments and lighting, which power the imagination of players and audience alike. This is strengthened by outstanding choreography (Rebecca Howell), particularly in the gypsy scene, shifting the energy between prison and pretence.

Kelsey Grammer (Cervantes/Quixote) is, unsurprisingly, a wonderful asset, playing unabashed delusion like nobody else could – whilst his sidekick Sancho (Peter Polycarpou) provides some of the show’s most comedic turns, even in the poignant closing scenes. Danielle de Niese ensures there isn’t a dry eye in the house with her depiction of Aldonza, whilst Ryan Pidgen deserves special mention for stealing the stage in a hilarious cameo as the barber.

Physical comedy compliments the lively score (Mitch Leigh), whilst unexpected moments of musical beauty are realised in ensemble pieces – including an early rendition of ‘Little Bird, Little Bird’, which has a chilling reprise later in the show. Congratulations to the whole cast and crew for daring to dream the impossible dream by reviving this forgotten classic.

Man of La Mancha won’t run for much longer: catch it while you can!

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