BWW Review: THE LAST SHIP, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

BWW Review: THE LAST SHIP, Theatre Royal, Glasgow

BWW Review: THE LAST SHIP, Theatre Royal, GlasgowThe Last Ship is a musical inspired by musician Sting's childhood experiences as his community faced the demise of the shipbuilding industry.

It seems almost odd that The Last Ship had a run on Broadway before setting sail on a UK tour as the show is so uniquely British. Set in Tyneside, we meet the shipyard workers as they are ready to finish building the ship Utopia.

A government figure steps in (bearing a striking resemblance to Margaret Thatcher...) and tells them that finishing the ship is not a financially viable option and instead they must break the ship up for scraps- with the majority of workers losing their jobs.

The Last Ship tells us the individual stories of many of the shipyard workers and their place in this close-knit community. The characters are well fleshed out and I found that I quickly became invested in their stories.

Richard Fleeshman possesses one of my favourite voices in musical theatre and is always a delight to watch perform. Fleeshman plays Gideon, a young man who fled on a ship when his father became injured at work and returned to their community seventeen years later.

Frances McNamee plays Meg Dawson, Gideon's feisty childhood sweetheart. One of the show stopping tracks in the show is McNamee's "If You Ever See Me Talking To A Sailor", which has big belting notes to rival "Defying Gravity".

The complicated relationship between Meg and Gideon is very well played out and both give a convincing performance. McNamee also portrays a realistic and touching relationship with her defiant daughter Ellen (played by Parisa Shahmir).

Although the staging of The Last Ship is quite dark, there is humour laced throughout the script. Peggy White (played by Penelope Woodman) initially seems like some light relief in the show but delivers the most stirring monologue in the show. During her speech you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. Peggy's interactions with her husband Jackie White (played by Joe McGann) provide some of the most touching scenes of the production.

Sting's rousing score is one of the rare ones that makes an immediate impression. The folk influenced music is the kind that you leave the auditorium humming. The title track "The Last Ship" is a spine-tingling rousing anthem that you could (and I plan to) listen to again and again.

The performance ends with a nod to the history that this musical is built on and relating the story to similar happening with the Glasgow shipbuilding industry. The Last Ship is a powerful and emotive musical that deserves to have a long life beyond this debut UK tour.

The Last Ship runs at the Theatre Royal until 23 June.

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From This Author Natalie O'Donoghue

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