Tammy Faye, Almeida Theatre – There Ought To Be Clowns

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Immensely spectacular artistic work and a few corking performances can’t fairly disguise the hollowness on the coronary heart of Tammy Faye on the Almeida Theatre

“You opened your coronary heart and folks needed to come back in. It was like the alternative of church”

I don’t know something concerning the world of US TV evangelists. And I ponder what number of Brits actually do, other than seeing the movie The Eyes of Tammy Faye final yr, heaven is aware of the reviewers all look like consultants… Which is a roundabout method of claiming that it looks like an odd selection for Tammy Faye to emerge on the Almeida Theatre (is there a cultural alternate scheme possibly? Can we count on Bella Emberg the Musical at Roundabout subsequent yr? I’d LOVE that 😂)

And additional to that, the present is directed by Rupert Goold with a e book by James Graham and rating by Elton John, lyricist Jake Shears (late of much-missed Scissor Sisters) is the one US headline artistic. I don’t know whether it is notably necessary, or fairly I can’t say, as I don’t know something concerning the true life story of Tammy Faye, but it surely all simply looks like a curious option to put a lot artistic useful resource into, no less than on this facet of the pond.

And there’s a lot right here. Goold is aware of find out how to stage a balls-out wonderful musical on this area (I LOVED American Psycho) and with Bunny Christie’s witty and fantastic set design evoking so many TV recollections, Lynne Web page’s choreography superb in its homosexual abandon and Katrina Lindsay’s resplendent 80s wig and costume work, Tammy Faye is an undoubted visible deal with that does a lot so proper.

That is matched with some impeccable casting. Katie Brayben is quietly constructing a profession as one in all our best thespians and he or she’s incredible right here, greater than able to main from the entrance along with her astounding vocal prowess and actual nuance labored into her character even because the kitsch threatens to overwhelm. Andrew Rannells impresses too as her husband and co-televangelist who has to be taught to stay more and more in her shadow.  

Storywise, the rise of the Christian proper within the face of Tammy’s burgeoning feminist and homosexual rights credentials is current but it surely doesn’t all the time really feel just like the manufacturing is especially interested by telling this story. At occasions, it’s like an introduction calendar of flashy drive-by cameos and camp moments which, as entertaining as they’re, do detract from the precision with which now we have turn out to be so luxuriously accustomed with James Graham’s unbelievable oeuvre.

And Elton John’s rating additionally has a distracting high quality to it, because it attracts on a number of US influences of Christian rock, gospel and honky-tonk in addition to musical theatre requirements with out ever managing to give you a persona or id of its personal. The long-lasting majesty of the music of Billy Elliot is lacking right here; with out the bells and whistles of this manufacturing (and the efforts of a incredible forged), you marvel how forgettable this rating would possibly find yourself being.

Operating time: 2 hours 50 minutes (with interval)
Photographs: Marc Brenner
Tammy Faye is reserving on the Almeida Theatre till third December

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