Memphis - Review by Jack Bence
***** (5 stars)
Shaftesbury Theatre, London - Thursday 23 October, 2014
Memphis is the story of the birth of rock 'n' roll, and a tale of two people trying to achieve their dreams set against the backdrop of 50s America and the brutal segregation of that time.
The show opens with a high-octane rip-roaring song and dance number that sets the tone for the entire piece abd this high energy remains throughout, only subverted during the more sombre, delicate moments, which are handled expertly by the performers. The show also uses some clever devices most notably a sliding skateboard to remove singers when the radio dial is changed during the department store scene.
Beverley Knight is incredible as Felicia; her vocal range and ability are as good, if not better as anyone I've seen in the West Eend... Yes, she is a recording artist but she is also without question a true leading lady. Killian Donnelly is also exquisite as the rebellious tour de force that is Huey Calhoun. Playing the role with all the charisma and punch that it so desperately requires.
The choreography is strong, the dancing breathtaking and the band is incredible. Other standout performers are Jason Pennycooke (Bobby) and Tyrone Huntley (Gator) who offer truly flawless performances that made me both laugh and cry.
The piece gives a candid representation of the division and hardship that was evident during that period in history and the writing, direction and delivery handle and serve it impeccably.
Whether you love the blues or not (and who doesn't?) all in all this is a show I would implore you to see. It received a rapturous standing ovation and never has it been so richly deserved.
Memphis is currently playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London. Book now: https://seatplan.com/london/memphis/