Goodbye Barcelona is a new musical by Judith Johnson and K. S. Lewkowicz set in the Spanish Civil War. It follows the story of Sammy, an 18-year old Jewish boy from London, who decides to join the International Brigades to fight against Franco and the fascists. In Spain he falls in love with with Pilar, who has lost both her parents in the war and now has to look after her sister. His mother Rebecca misses him so much that she decides to join up too to find him in Spain. Working as a nurse, she falls in love with the anarchist Ernesto, who decides to help her find Sammy. Meanwhile Sammy, Jack, George and the rest of the International Brigaders prepare for the last decisive battle…
Tom Gill is excellent as the naive and ideallistic Sammy, his acting is very intense. Lucy Bradshaw gives a very moving and heartfelt performance as his mother Rebecca. Katie Bernstein (Pilar) has a great voice, another first class performance. John Killoran‘s performance as Ernesto is incredibly moving. Jack Shalloo as George, the leader of their unit, has a very distinctive voice that stands out from the others. It’s nice to see him in a completely different role for a change and he definitely doesn’t disappoint. Mark Meadows is equally great as the bitter, disillusioned and cynical Jack, the oldest and most experienced
member of their unit. His You’ll Learn was great. Laura Tebbutt shows her amazing voice as La Pasionaria and also plays Ernesto’s sister Maria.
Goodbye Barcelona has a very strong score, I couldn’t name a single song that I did not like. The rousing ensemble numbers sounded amazing. I especially liked the way they incorporated the Internationale into it and then reprised it later with different lyrics. Speaking of the lyrics, I thought they were very moving and heartfelt. The story itself is quite predictable, but despite of this I found the ending very hard to watch.
It’s a story of courage, love, passion and war, brought to life by an excellent cast. I found it completely gripping and really hope that his production is not the last that will be seen of this musical.
Goodbye Barcelona runs until the 23rd December at the Arcola Theatre. Tickets can be booked online.