Wednesday, 22 October 2014

REVIEW - Here Lies Love at the National


AFTER being closed for 18 months for a refit the National Theatre's Cottesloe stage is now back open. As well as a name change - to the Dorfman, although I am sad about this as I loved the Cottesloe - it looks funky and fresh.
Which is just as well because the show with which it has re-opened is about as funky, punky and fresh as you could wish.
Here Lies Love is the brainchild of Talking Heads' David Byrne and DJ Fatboy Slim. It essentially tells the story of the rise to power of Imelda Marcos, though sadly pays no reference whatsoever to her vast shoe collection.
But if you think it's going to be a traditional theatre experience think again. This one is part disco, part musical theatre and part karaoke.
Most of the audience stand in the pit area of what feels like a nightclub where there is a moveable stage in the middle of the space over which hangs the most enormous glitter ball.
To the sides are other moveable platforms, all of which are moved about during the show - meaning those in the pit area move too.
On the walls and any available panels are images both moving and static which are projected throughout the show.
Presiding over proceedings from on high is a DJ whose main job apart from playing the pulsating music throughout and which greets the audience as we walk in - is to chivvy the groundlings into dancing, singing and getting into the groove.
He doesn't need to do much work in this department as it's not difficult to get swept along with it.
And indeed the show itself is a joy. There is hardly any spoken narrative, instead the performers sing, dance and act their way around the space and by the end those in the pit area have become part of the show, dancing and singing along.
It is a fascinating story of Imelda Marcos' life from the back streets of a poor town to being rejected by her first love for being too tall to becoming a beauty queen before marrying Ferdinand Marcos and their rise to power and then exile.
The whole cast and crew do a great job - especially the crew in pink boiler suits and make up who usher the groundlings in the right direction as the stage set moves.
Gia Macuja Atchison is great as Imelda's childhood friend Estrella, and Mark Bautista and Dean John-Wilson put in fine performances as Ferdinand Marcos and Ninoy Aquino respectively.
But it was Natalie Mendoza who, with her terrific voice, gave a blistering performance as Imelda and stole the show.

Here Lies Love is on at the National Theatre's Dorfman stage until January 9. Tickets cost from £15. Visit or call the box office on 020 7452 3000.

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