22-26 September 2015
Reviewed by Ellie Hanks
Yesterday evening, we took a trip to The Royal Theatre Brighton to see a new musical called Crush, of which I’d never heard of before, so I was unsure as to what to expect. What we received was a mixed bag.
The Theatre Royal itself is a beautiful theatre, old and intricate and a stunning setting for any show. However I’m afraid to say Crush left me a bit cold.
It’s a shame I felt this way; I genuinely wanted to love it – it’s exactly the type of story I love – an earlier synopsis I read described it as a cross between St Trinians and Mallory Towers with Mallory Towers in particular, right up my street. But I wasn’t that enamoured with this version of my beloved Enid Blyton’s concept. I think the storyline lacked purpose and I found myself (particularly towards the end) not caring that much about the school or the cast’s plight to ‘save it’.
The story begins with a group of high schoolgirls exclaiming their hatred for their new headmistress and we soon learn of the two leading girls’ gay relationship of which they are hiding from everyone but their friends and the hapless Miss Austin (Sara Crowe). The girls run away to London to escape ‘medical help’ for their homosexuality and mishaps and break-ups follow that ensure a love triangle is seen to be put right and the school is saved by the hero pupils and randomly, long lost relatives of the current headmistress’ predecessor. Still with me? Yeah, I was bored at ‘run away to London’ too.
The set was the first thing to dash my hopes of a thrilling evening. What a disappointment. It looked unfinished and almost like the budget didn’t stretch to colour on the background. A lot of MDF and sorry looking pencil drawings. Bizarre.
There were some notable good points though; Stephanie Clift shines as the naive Susan, her voice is excellent and you can tell she’s fresh from the West End. Same can be said for Charlotte Miranda-Smith as Susan’s beau Camilla and Brianna Ogunbawo as the ‘relationship third wheel’ Daimler – outstanding comedic performances and pitch perfect voices.
A special mention to Rosemary Ashe as the vile Miss Bleacher. An incredible voice on this woman; I fear she won’t get the credit she deserves for helping to carry this musical.
Musical numbers wise I was impressed and the choreography was spot on – kudos to Richard Roe for a notable tap number that stuck in my head and of which the cast performed wonderfully well. Kath Gotts is a talented composer and I felt it’s a shame the musical doesn’t give her original music the display it deserves.
Overall I just wanted to like this musical more than I did. I had such high hopes and they fell, well, flat.
Tickets cost from £12.90 to £38.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Crush is at the Theatre Royal in Brighton until 26 September 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 7650.
Theatre Royal. New Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1SD | 0844 871 7650