Review: FURY AND ELYSIUM, The Other Palace Studio

New musical set in Weimar-era Berlin shows potential for development

By: Jun. 08, 2023
Review: FURY AND ELYSIUM, The Other Palace Studio

Review: FURY AND ELYSIUM, The Other Palace Studio It’s time to say willkommen, bienvenue, welcome to Weimar Berlin as Fury and Elysium, a new musical, fetches up in the Studio at The Other Palace. As Gary Lineker recently found out, drawing attention to parallels between the political environment of the UK in 2023 and Germany a century or so previously, can be fraught with danger, but this show largely allows us to draw our own conclusions on then and now.

We meet six of the transgressive personalities who stamped their (ultimately doomed) mark on the cultural phenomenon that bloomed so heartbreakingly briefly. Rosa Luxemburg breathes political fire and is assassinated as a result; the Dadaist, Valeska Gert, refuses to explain their art and the drag king, Claire Waldoff, shows us that gender-fluidity has been around longer than some millennials might realise. We also hear a little of the seductive, mendacious appeal of the Nazis to working class Berliners, reeling under a cost of living crisis let loose by a failing political class - geddit? 

It doesn’t all work. The episodic structure means that we never really get to know the characters before they’re off, replaced by a madam or striptease artiste. Stephanie Martin’s book does not settle into a narrative nor constructs an impressionistic mosaic, linking the radical agitprop producers into a coherent group - they’re individuals that come and go. It doesn’t really help that too many conversations sound more like readings from manifestos than actual dialogues. The curious decision to dress each character as if they have just finished a painting and decorating job in one of nearby Cardinal Place’s office blocks is not helpful either, as the Berlin aesthetic was so strong that the jarring between what our eyes see and what our imaginations are invited to conjure, never really resolves.

The songs (by Calista Kazuko Georget) are much the strongest element of the show, capturing a subversive cabaret-feel without ever falling into parody or pastiche. There are echoes of Friedrich Hollaender’s melodies and the bitter satire of Kurt Weill too of course, but the music feels fresh and relevant. The ensemble of Danielle Steers, Rosie Yadid, Ashley Goh, Maya Kristal Tenenbaum, Michal Horowicz and Charlotte Clitherow, covering for Iz Hesketh on press night all get solo numbers, but the room is unforgiving and some voices deal better than others with its challenges. The cast work best singing in harmony which, like the dancing we saw only in the finale, is inexplicably rationed out parsimoniously by co-directors, Rafaella Marcus & Karoline Gable

New musicals are notoriously difficult to get right and this one is no exception. That said, one can see the foundations of a good show here, albeit in a very well populated niche of Musical Theatre. The score is ready for fine tuning, but it will require a book more tightly focused book to support it and some design work to be done in support of the storytelling. To do that, more money is required, but this venue plays a role in incubating such ventures and there’s plenty here that’s worthy of such backing. 

Fury and Elysium is at The Other Palace Studio until 18 June      

Photo Credit: Lexi Clare



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