REVIEW: Evita, Kings Theatre, Southsea, until November 17
Razor-sharp lyrics, rich, funny and inventive, set to magnificent tunes, from the poignant to the powerful, all telling a fascinating, provocative and remarkable tale…
You’d have to say that Evita is surely a gift for any performer – but a gift a performer will surely have to live up to, as the company most definitely did in Portsmouth tonight.
Lucy O'Byrne soars in the role of Eva, the dodgy gal who rises from the gutter, via any means necessary, to assume saint-like status in Argentina before her tragically-premature death.
Where O'Byrne really scores is in showing us Eva’s determination, her manipulation of everyone to get where she wants to be – and then her supreme vulnerability as overseas indifference catches up with her, swiftly followed by her own mortality.
Beside her Mike Sterling is magnificent as Perón, a man playing a similar game to Eva, with similar stakes and similar compromises. Together they are a questionable couple – and yet, briefly, they won the hearts of a nation with the hope they seemed to offer. Eva’s final illness is beautifully, touchingly played.
Glenn Carter makes an impressive Ché, but to take it to the next level and to give the role full value, he needs to inject it with the anger and the contempt which mark the greatest Chés – anger and contempt mixed with fascination for the legend Eva creates around herself.
But that’s just a quibble on a great night, one on which Bill Kenwright’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical shows that it still reigns supreme: a genuine masterpiece.