Review – Company, Union Theatre

Thursday 11 June 2009

Company the musical - Union TheatreThe Whingers would love to recommend Michael Strassen‘s production of Sondheim‘s Company at the Union Theatre.

But the chances of you getting a ticket now are less than those Labour has of winning a election if one were called tomorrow (the run ends this Saturday 13th June). Unless of course one of the six producers (plus Miss Kazonga 2008, Ruthie Henshall) who were in the house last night decide to stump up some cash and transfer it to the West End.

It wouldn’t be a bad decision –  the toilet arrangements would almost certainly be superior in its new home.

But it’s also a rather charming production. The “story” (actually there is no story) centres around 35 year old New York singleton Robert (Lincoln Stone – excellent) who has three girlfriends and a lot of friends who are all couples and are seeking to get Robert married off one way or another. The show is notable for featuring a slew of Sondheim’s more tuneful and wittiest songs (“The Little Things You Do Together” “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” and, of course “The Ladies Who Lunch”).

Andrew has many complaints about George Furth‘s book. He finds the vignettes outstay their welcome and insists that he simply can not care about Robert and his self-indulgent ruminations on whether or not he should get married and if so to whom. Phil thinks it’s all so much sour grapes due to the fact that Robert is attractive, sexually successful and has many friends whereas Andrew, well, eats without dribbling, has an O Level in Technical Drawing and possesses a passable recipe for hummus. That’s probably the best that can be said for him.

Lucy Williamson in CompanyMister Strassen’s production excellently staged in black and brown giving just the right hint of 70s-ness without overdoing it and features a well drilled cast who deserve to be seen by a wider audience. The louder or slower bits are considerably better than the quieter or faster bits but that’ll all come with practice, we’re sure.

Highlights included Lucy Williamson‘s Joanne (left) which is the only role worth playing in Company really. Williamson got an enthusiastic roar from the audience for her “The Ladies Who Lunch”.

Lucy Evans and Lincoln Stone in CompanyAlso outstanding was Lucy Evans (right, with Lincoln Stone) whose performance as air stewardess April was as poignant as it was funny and her duet with Bobby (“Barcelona”) was possibly the most sublime moment of the evening.

But the Whingers still had something to moan about: unreserved seating. We won’t go on about it because it’s a very long story but it ended up with the Whingers’ party being split into three – one group at the back and one behind each of the two pillars. Did we mention we HATE unallocated seating? HATE HATE HATE. Incidentally, Company is “presented” by Regan De Wynter which we think may be a sick joke at our expense as the name is an anagram of “we’d enter angry” and so it proved. Very angry.

But anyway, we won’t go on about it not least because (a) we didn’t actually pay for our seats so it would be churlish and (b) we were so won over by the evening’s entertainment that we actually ended up giving money to the Union Theatre in return for A Flat. Yes, the theatre is trying to raise money for a new piano and is appealing for people to buy a piano key for £25. The names of all sponsors shall appear on an appropriate display in the foyer, it says. We’re cock a hoop to finally be bona fide patrons of the arts – the first step on our journey to impressarioship, mark our words.

The cast of Company at the Union Theatre London


Programme-watchers will be thrilled to know that there is an acknowledgement to one Jonathan Harbourne for his cake design.


10 Responses to “Review – Company, Union Theatre”

  1. Phaeton Says:

    Lovely lovely review. I now a) want to buy a piano key and b) see Company. And I’ve never wanted to see company before.

  2. I was right then about the unallocated seating, that it would be your main gripe about the whole thing. Should it go to the Arts Theatre, I am definitely going to catch it again!

  3. Baldassaro Says:

    On reserved versus unreserved seating, it can occasionally cut both ways. I went to Ajax at the Riverside Studios last week (not quite the Whingers’ thing, but never mind) and the audience was pretty much outnumbered by the cast. I asked the usher whether we could sit anywhere, and she told me we couldn’t – the seating was numbered and we had to sit where it said on our tickets. This resulted in the entire audience of ten or so being cramped up in a corner, with a vast expanse of seats left empty. Most of us revolted before the play started, but it does show that sometimes unreserved is better…

  4. Dear Guys,

    My unreserved apologies for you being split up and should we transfer do email me directly for seats which will be very together and include the after show party. This is as a thank you for coming in the first place and out of fear as I know how whingy you chaps can be. Yes we had 6 producers in but in this business we call show who can tell as for Miss Hensall, well she cried in parts and for all the right reasons (minus the headscarf this time)…bless her for coming

    Regardless of what company the Company keeps in the future thank you for being part of what is fast becoming a mini legend…”did you get to see Company..we couldnt get in’…watch this space…xxx

  5. Ruthie Henshall actually cried? Soppy mare.

  6. Crandal Says:

    Listen, I don’t really want to rain on your parade Mr Strassen because I did have a good time at the show, musically it was terrific and to hear those voices un amplified was a treat. But there were certain directorial decisions that you didn’t make – like : when is the show taking place? Is it 1970 or 2009 – George Furth’s book and Sondheim’s lyrics are solid 70’s stuff – but with the use of cellphones and texting you lifted the show out of it’s time period so that it aspects of it didn’t make sense. If it’s taking place now then who makes references to a busy signal – are there busy signals anymore? And why did you revert to the “fag” lyric line when Mr Sondheim has written a more suitable alternate ? And the random use of the word Cocksucker in You Could Drive a Person Crazy is , I am certain, not in the script . I’m being picky because this production comes so close to being terrific it’s seems a shame that you’ve let some stuff slide.

  7. hannah Says:

    Shall the whingers be visiting the fringe further afield? Edinburgh maybe?

  8. stuart hanson Says:

    If this wonderfully inventive production does not get a further run in town it may decimate my faith in what producers are for. i saw it on the last night, having seen it three times by other companies and it just worked. No where the hell are we and when that was all sorted within the first 2 minutes. Well done all. Brilliance.

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