Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: IDENTICAL, Nottingham Playhouse

Review: IDENTICAL, Nottingham Playhouse

The world premiere of the charming new musical based on The Parent Trap

Review: IDENTICAL, Nottingham Playhouse From Erich Kästner's classic 1949 novel, to the 1961 movie starring Hayley Mills and the 1998 remake featuring Lindsay Lohan, The Parent Trap has been delighting families for generations. Its newest incarnation comes in the form of this charming new musical, produced by Kenny Wax and directed by Trevor Nunn.

The plot follows Lottie and Lisa, 10-year-old identical twins who have been raised apart since their parents' divorce. They discover each others' existence after accidentally meeting for the first time at summer camp, and hatch an audacious plan to switch places. It's a sweet story, if you can get past the extremely dubious custody arrangement, and there is plenty of scope for comedy, romance and heartfelt family reunions.

This adaptation is much closer to the novel than the movies, keeping not only the characters' original names but also Kästner's setting of Austria in 1950. We're treated to stunning sets by Robert Jones, and video design by Douglas O'Connell, which together transport us smoothly from the rolling hills and lakes of summer camp to the imposing architecture of Munich, where Lisa meets her mother for the first time, and the street cafes, opera houses and hotels of Vienna, where Lottie goes to live with her father.

Lisa and Lottie are played by three sets of real-life twins, including Eden and Emme Patrick, who performed on press night. Instantly likable and filled with mischief, they capture the twins' different personalities brilliantly and are completely believable in their journey from strangers to sisters. Their harmonies on "You're My Sister", a sweet early ballad of discovery and wonder, are enough to give the audience goosebumps.

The twins' mother, Lisalotte, is played with spirit by Emily Tierney, whose voice is well suited to her character's wistful ballads. James Darch is affable as the father, Johan, and Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson is striking as Johan's fiancé Irene, an ambitious ballerina who is clearly unused to children. She gets the best song in the show, the deliciously dark and creepily staged "Take One or the Other", which occurs in Lottie's nightmares and features Irene as an evil witch forcing the parents to divide up the children by any means necessary.

The show does feel as though there is room for improvement. The songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe are all pleasant, with the bittersweet "We Were Young" being another highlight, but on the whole they have a tendency to sound samey, and the ensemble numbers aren't helped by the slightly muddy sound design.

Stuart Paterson's book has some lovely moments, particularly when each twin connects with their previously unknown parents, and there are plenty of laughs to be had as the twins try to keep their deception a secret. However, it doesn't fully explore the parents' decision to separate the girls, and Lisalotte and Johan get very little time together on stage, which feels like a letdown after over two hours of buildup.

Although there are some tweaks needed, this is a heartwarming show with huge potential to be a family favourite. There's a sweet, wholesome quality to the production, which feels refreshing, and the sparkling performances, especially from the twins, will charm audiences of all ages.

Identical at Nottingham Playhouse until 14 August, then transfers to The Lowry

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith




From This Author - Laura Lott


Review: IDENTICAL, Nottingham Playhouse
August 3, 2022

From Erich Kastner's classic 1949 novel, to the 1961 movie starring Hayley Mills and the 1998 remake featuring Lindsay Lohan, The Parent Trap has been delighting families for generations. Its newest incarnation comes in the form of this charming new musical, produced by Kenny Wax and directed by Trevor Nunn.

Review: BUGSY MALONE, Birmingham Repertory Theatre
August 1, 2022

It's Prohibition-era New York, but not as you know it. The speakeasies and gang tensions are present and correct, but the mobsters and showgirls look like children, and the machine guns fire cream instead of bullets.

Review: PLAYBOY OF THE WEST INDIES, Birmingham Rep
June 16, 2022

It's been over a century since John Millington Synge's Irish play The Playboy of the Western World was first performed, and almost 40 years since Mustapha Matura transported the story to Trinidad in the original version of Playboy of the West Indies. Sadly, Matura passed away in 2019 before he finished the musical adaptation of his work, but collaborators and co-directors Clement Ishmael, Nicolas Kent and Dominique Le Gendre continued the project and have now brought the spirit and humour of the Caribbean to a Birmingham stage.

BWW Review: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, Birmingham Hippodrome
June 8, 2022

Often cited as one of the best movie musicals ever made, the 1952 romantic comedy Singin’ In The Rain, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds, has a special place in many people's hearts. It was first adapted for the West End stage in 1983 and since then there have been multiple productions. The current UK tour is a revival of the 2012 London production and is a faithful recreation of the movie, following Betty Comden and Adolph Green's screenplay almost to the letter and including all the songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed that originally featured. If there's a scene, a line or even a visual gag that you love in the film, chances are it's also in the stage adaptation.

BWW Review: WAITRESS, Birmingham Hippodrome
May 18, 2022

If there's such a thing as the perfect recipe for a musical, then Waitress has surely found it. Like each of Jenna's delicious freshly-baked pies, the show achieves the ideal balance of sweet and sour. By turns hilariously funny, heart-wrenchingly sad and achingly sweet, Waitress knows how to take the audience on a journey through their emotions and leave them truly satisfied.