Review: Curtains (King's Theatre Glasgow)


“Refrain from making anything brilliant, just avoid making anything god awful”. A truly accurate description of what it can feels like to create art. In Curtains, a murder is committed on opening night at a performance of Robin Hood set in the Wild West, and Lieutenant Frank Cioffi (Jason Manford) is brought in to figure out who did it. Pity he’s too distracted by the show to solve the crime.

The same can be said of the show as a whole; the murder case is often in the background, and not given as much importance as the relationships of the characters. The story certainly has it’s twists and turns, but it’s more musical than mystery. But it’s all the better for it. Curtains is a love letter to the form; even when the show bombs, the producers are evil, and the cast are selfish and dramatic, it’s still an enchanted space. In that sense it has a similar theme of theatrical floundering as The Play that Goes Wrong and Noises Off, but without the same sense of chaos.

In fact, this performance is about as far from chaotic as you can get. Paul Foster’s direction is faultlessly slick; the timing is immaculate, attention to detail is brilliant, and the stage images creative. The songs too, but in performance and as music on their own, are fun, romantic, catchy, moving, everything one could hope for. With music written by the same people behind Cabaret and Chicago, the numbers have a jazzy quality with the same aggressive style of vocals and lyrics.

Rebecca Locke embodies that the most as producer Carmen Bernstein. She has an authoritive bitterness but is never a whole-hearted villain, and draws your eye in any number she’s in. Playing her daughter, Bambi Bernét, Emma Caffrey’s bounces around with every pose she pulls resembling a 50s pin-up poster come to life. Samuel Holmes is crowd-pleasing as witty and cynical Christopher Belling, and rightly so; he has some of the best lines in the show and delivers them with salty panache. Even Nia Jermin, who plays soon-to-be-murdered Jessica Cranshaw, is scene stealing with her intentionally woeful singing and delightful dizziness.

Initially, the cluster of stupendous performances gives little room for Manford to shine, despite being the biggest name of the show. Soon enough though, he brings out his character’s charming giddiness. Curtains is a fun, witty musical and this fresh production completely does it justice. It seems that when it came to creating their own show, Foster and the entire cast made no effort whatsoever to refrain from making something brilliant. Four stars.

Whispers from the Crowd:

"I loved the choreography"

"The energy was good, it was very quirky"

"It was definitely unusual"

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