Ragtime at Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London
By Peter J Pullan
We knew this was not to be a saccharine family musical when we walked into the auditorium and saw the set – a rubbish tip dominated by a bombed-out poster of President Barack Obama and the words ‘Dare to Dream’.
‘Ragtime’ dealt with the experiences of immigrants in the USA and their hopes to savour the American dream against the racial tensions of the early 20th century. As such it made for often grim reminders of the cruelties of prejudice and bigotry and much of the writing focussed on political events as well as the more intimate concerns of black and white people.
The music alternated between ragtime melodies that immediately got my foot tapping, but which sadly never rose to the level of the truly great ragtime composers such as Scott Joplin, and what seemed to be pastiches of numbers from ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘West Side Story’.
The ensemble work and choreography was truly fantastic with the colourful costumes contrasting with the grey concrete set. The stage was a much larger thrust stage than usual and meant that we were much nearer to the action. The two caption units were absolutely perfectly placed within the set and the captioning itself was a model of excellent formatting and timing.
Once again we had an extraordinary afternoon at the Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park, the rain held off for the most part and it seemed a shame that more people did not feel brave enough to risk the weather to see such an excellent production. I do wonder whether it would be advantageous to caption a performance on both a Friday evening (where the lighting would play an important part) and a Saturday matinee to offer more people a chance to enjoy this venue.
What's on next?
23rd May 2013
Oxford Playhouse, Oxford