‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ Review: Good-Hearted Musical Is Long on Incident but Short on Drama | instastori.com

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Smartly refusing to beryllium doggedly faithful, bookwriter and head Jethro Compton retains nan arc of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s (very) short, fable-like communicative “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” but almost thing else. Achieving an charismatic life of its ain connected stage, nan American communicative has been relocated to nan coastal villages and tin mines of agrarian Cornwall pinch perfectly matched, lively and beautiful Celtic people euphony spiritedly played by a splendid cast. There is, however, a problem: nan communicative itself.

From nan outset there’s a welcome, knowing joke delivered successful nonstop reside by nan afloat institution mounting up individual scenes for Benjamin (Jamie Parker), opening pinch his mysterious commencement astatine nan property of 70 successful 1918. His horrified parents support him a blameworthy concealed while Benjamin originates starring his life steadily successful reverse. Having been initially hidden, forbidden to beryllium seen successful public, by nan clip he becomes, truthful to speak, a teenager, he has recovered a regular concealed flight way into nan colony wherever he originates mixing pinch group who presume him to beryllium arsenic aged arsenic he looks.

Permanently hiding nan conundrum of his unsocial life, Benjamin suffers. Almost each business successful which he finds himself crossed nan show’s 22 scenes intends he is astatine likelihood pinch those astir him because of nan concealed he is forced to keep. That gives a nicely restrained, progressively open-hearted Parker plentifulness to play pinch arsenic he ages down beautifully. His sound gradually loses its aging to merchandise his richly expressive tenor successful emotion songs pinch his existent emotion Elowen, hauntingly sung by a wonderfully grounded and quick-witted Molly Osborne. And he makes nan astir of rubbing scenes pinch a new-found friend Jack (a judge and dependable Jack Quarton).

But by halfway done nan agelong first act, nan difficulties are showing. Benjamin’s business is repetitive and predictable. The well-meshed imaginative squad build expressive specifications into each segment but nan inevitability of nan communicative robs it of melodramatic drive. Much arsenic successful Bernstein’s very different yet likewise problematic “Candide,” there’s a worrying deficiency of tension. Instead of being a play successful which actions person consequences that clasp nan audience, it becomes an unengaging “and then…” show.

Across 22 numbers (eight of which are reprises), composer Darren Clark underlines nan “telling” successful “storytelling”, providing communicative numbers pinch nan institution arsenic chorus outlining place, condition and, astir especially, all-important clip successful this travelling tale. Structurally that’s not a cardinal miles distant from nan chorus activity successful Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along,” but successful each different measurement Clark is his ain man. His lushly harmonic music, powerfully sung and played by multi-skilled actor-musicians, is steeped successful people contented arsenic reflected successful his ain boisterous arrangements and buoyant orchestrations encompassing everything from pennywhistle to stand-up bass via fiddles, guitars, drums, keyboards, accordion and more.

But nan euphony is stronger connected temper than momentum. At an overly agelong two-hour-and-45-minute tally time, arsenic everyone launches into yet different foot-stomping ceremony of community, a consciousness of repetition sets in. And while nan ballads are suitably lonesome, nan lyrics — co-written pinch head and book writer Compton — are generic. And nan moments erstwhile nan institution sings retired nan show’s themes (the difficulties of clip and nan value of making nan astir of it) time off nan assemblage excessively small to glean for themselves.

Even nan beautifully crafted moments erstwhile nan instruments driblet retired to springiness nan 12-strong institution afloat rein successful lush, unaccompanied harmony gradually suffer power. Like nan scenes of nan episodic story, location are conscionable excessively galore of them.

Compton’s production, crossed his ain multi-purpose woody group of planking and boxes, is fleetly staged pinch minimal fuss and a cardinal decease successful peculiar is simply and efficaciously done. But nan longer nan communicative proceeds, nan much you wish he had been acold much ruthless pinch his ain book, which is crowded pinch incident alternatively than excitement.

It’s nary coincidence that nan movie version, garlanded pinch 13 Oscar nominations, only came location pinch 3 awards for nan (deserving) visuals. That excessively reinvented nan story’s soul specifications but still couldn’t find a measurement to create melodramatic tension.

Compton and Clark’s wholly uncynical show, first seen successful a smaller type successful 2019, couldn’t inquire for a better, much committed cast, and there’s a uncommon good-heartedness to nan full evening which, ultimately, is successful a very akin vein to nan different caller philharmonic astir community, “Come From Away.” But wherever that show had beardown characters and changes of reside successful a taut timeline, this lacks assortment and range. A slew of producers is now attached, but for this to execute further commercialized life drastic cuts are needed. The creators person wisely been unfaithful to nan missive of nan original. They request to spell overmuch further.