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EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: ASSASSINS, theSpace @ Venue45

EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: ASSASSINS, theSpace @ Venue45

EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: ASSASSINS, theSpace @ Venue45Nearly 30 years old, Assassins manages to remain fiercely relevant in 2017.

Stephen Sondheim's interpretation of disillusionment with the American dream is explored through those who have tried to kill Presidents of the United States. As we see how historical figures chose deadly violence to react against real or perceived injustices, it is hard to escape comparisons between the recent unrest in the USA and the show's sentiment that "every now and then the country goes a little wrong".

This version from Finishing The Hat Productions is very much stripped down for the Fringe, with a simple set and its script abridged to fit more into a usual Fringe running time. Despite this, it manages to communicate the entertainingly contradictory nature of the show - comedic yet sinister, catchy yet horrifying, sympathetic yet downright disturbing.

In terms of the performances, vocals are uniformly strong across the entire cast, though do occasionally lack attack in the delivery of the lyrics. Lani Calvert as Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme is a definite standout, with a relaxed, natural performance quietly captivating the audience every time she's on stage.

Richard Aaron Davies as Guiteau is more subtle in his interpretation than the role is often played, but this makes the undercurrent of madness in the superficially charming character more effective. Unfortunately, the script cuts meant a couple of his scenes are omitted - a shame as it makes the character seem less developed.

In terms of production design, the show makes very effective use of recorded video, particularly in the opening section where the Balladeer (Jack Hawkins) flicks through TV channels, creating a collage of Americana, from televangelism to fried chicken.

There are some effective lighting states, though LEDs are a little overused, leading to rather jarring changes within scenes. More intense sound effects for the gunshots could also up the tension.

Overall, however, this production is a confident take on a great musical, and in a full-length traditional format outside of the Fringe, would likely be even better. Strong performances and some interesting concepts mean that Assassins certainly hits its mark.

Assassins has now finished its run.

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From This Author Amy Hanson

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