Assassins*** (Surgeons Hall Edinburgh, 15 August, 2013)

Posted: August 16, 2013 in Theatre

Any Stephen Sondheim musical, including one as obscure as this, is worth going out of the way for. Building a show around assassins and would-be assassins of US Presidents may seem more than weird, even for the great pioneer of new territories for musical theatre, but he uses it as an opportunity to explore a dangerous seam of malcontent and madness that runs through American history. Although the show sags between songs, lovely tunes and dazzling lyrics are plentiful. As with many Sondheims, the songs are rarely heard because the lyrics are so specific to the show. Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society has mounted this production and, if the performances fall marginally (only marginally) below the highest professional standards, it is heartening to see that enthusiasm for Sondheim is passing to a new generation.

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