BWW Review: MAGGIE MAY, Finborough Theatre
Liverpool, 1960s. Maggie May Duffy is a prostitute who's in love with her childhood sweetheart Patrick Casey, a sailor and son of a union leader who's been at sea for some time.
She tries to rekindle their feelings when he finally comes back but his struggles with accepting his legacy and her reputation are difficult to leave to the side.
Finborough Theatre brings the first revival of Maggie May to London more than 50 years after its debut in 1964. Lionel Bart's music and lyrics won the musical an Ivor Novello Award but it went on to be one of those long-forgotten pieces of theatre, perhaps for legitimate reasons.
Matthew Iliffe directs a sharp production, making the most of the minuscule traverse stage and managing not to overcrowd it with his 13-strong cast featuring Kara Lily Hayworth as the title character and James Darch as her lover. There seems to be a firm dichotomy between the visuals of the show and the matter portrayed. The company looks and sounds good on Verity Johnson's set but the subject might not fully resonate with a 21st Century audience.
The (blindingly white) cast works as gears of a bigger machine, led by musical director Henry Brennan at the piano - who deserves a commendable mention as he plows through roughly two hours of playing nearly non-stop. Sam Spencer-Lane creates a classical choreography: bound to a 60s-style of dance and tied to that specific era of musical numbers.
The same could be said for Iliffe's approach to the material. His direction is solid and would be able to soar with a different concept, but the circumstances of the story, the fact that the plot leaves quite a few loose ends, and the portrayal of a woman reduced to her affections for a man simply don't give him the right push to step into the extraordinary.