The Go-Between, Royal & Derngate, Northampton

12 Nov

The Go-Between is a new British musical by Richard Taylor (music) and David Wood (book), which is based on the novel by LP Hartley. I am usually a bit wary of musical adaptions of books I really enjoyed, because there is always the danger of them falling short of the original. However, with The Go-Between there is absolutely no need to worry, as it manages to bring the characters and the story alive on stage and it does the original novel more than justice.

The story takes place in 1950, when Leo Colston, who is still haunted by the past,  finds his old diary in his attic and re-lives the fateful summer of 1900 once more. Then he was invited to spend the holidays with his school friend Marcus in Brandham Hall. Even though his family are trying to make him feel at ease, Leo is desperate to really belong. When Marcus falls ill, Leo is left to his own devices a lot, which leads to him being used as a messenger boy between Marian, Marcus’s older sister, and Ted, a local farmer. Not understanding the nature and significance of these letters, Leo gets caught up in the mesh of lies and the out-come will change his life forever.

James Staddon

Colston acts as the narrator of the story, looking back on the events that had shaped his whole life. He is hardly off stage and often shadows his younger self, but he doesn’t directly interact with him until the very end, even though he does interact with the rest of the characters at various points. In that way, it reminded me a bit of The Secret Garden. There is no rush in telling the story, the musical is very slow paced, which leaves enough time to explore the different emotions the characters go through.

The cast is excellent throughout. Due to some problems with the trains, I ended up seeing all four boys who share the parts of Leo and Marcus. Guy Amos (Leo) and Richard Linnell (Marcus) were on for the matinee and Will Miles (Leo) and Adam Bradbury (Marcus) for the evening performance.  All of them easily held their own amongst the otherwise adult cast and made the parts their own. Sophie Bould (Marian) has such a lovely voice, as does Stuart Ward (Ted). James Staddon (Colston) is incredibly, I found his acting very truthful and moving. His inner conflict seemed almost tangible. Stephen Carlile, Philip Cox, Richard Kent, Fiona O’Carroll, Gemma Page and Chris Theo-Cook were all great too. Strong voices and acting. Personally, I found all characters were just as I had imagined them when reading the book (I’ve never seen the movie). Seeing them come alive like this was wonderful.

The music is simply gorgeous. It really enhances the story-telling and adds so much to the atmosphere of the musical. The yearning, the summer heat, the loss of childhood innocence, desire, regrets, excitement, it’s all in the music. There is “only” a piano (Jonathan Gill), which I thought made the music even more poignant. The lightning enhanced the atmosphere even more. I just wish there was a cast recording of it, but even so I can’t get certain songs out of my head, most noticably Butterfly and the last song (Unfortunately, there is not even a list of the songs in the programme).

The Go-Between is certainly one of the best new musicals I have seen for a while and the best regional musical since Love Story (Chichester Festival, 2010) for me. The staging is magical, the music exciting and the cast excellent. These three facts alone probably mean it wouldn’t survive in the West End at the moment, simply because it is too good. However, you can catch it in Northampton until the 19th November. Don’t miss this gem of a new musical!

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4 Responses to “The Go-Between, Royal & Derngate, Northampton”

  1. As above 14 November 2011 at 11:05 #

    Unfortunately the programme incorrectly shows the boys’ names under the photo. Last week’s peformances/pairings were:-
    Mon 7th, Wed 9th, Sat 12th (mat & eve) – Guy Amos (Leo) & Richard Linnell (Marcus)
    Tue 8th, Thur 10th (mat & even), Fri 11th – Will Miles (Leo) & Adam Bradbury (Marcus)

    • Polly Browne 14 November 2011 at 11:20 #

      Thank you for the information! I changed one of the names now. Though I was convinved that the two other boys were on for the evening performance on the 12th (I saw both that day).

      • As above 14 November 2011 at 15:01 #

        Definitely the same pairing on Sat 12th for matinee & evening – Richard & Guy.

        2 different pairings on Sat 5th – Matinee – Richard & Guy. Evening – Adam & Will.

      • Polly Browne 14 November 2011 at 15:11 #

        I got the dates mixed up, I saw both shows on the 5th, not the 12th! Thanks again for telling me.

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