Siddhartha The Musical**** (Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 14, 2014 in Theatre

siddhartha-the-musical_2014SIDDHAR_8VInspired by Herman Hesse’s novel, which has something to do with the journey of a prince to discover the meaning of life, this is an Italian musical, written and directed by Isabella Biffi, with music by her and Fabio Codega. It is difficult to think of a successful musical from Italy since Turandot, but, true to its origins, it boasts lush melodies and beautiful singing, particularly by Giorgio Adamo in the title role. With the exception of narration by the older Siddhartha (Michael Nouri), the show is spoken and sung in Italian, but it is only necessary to glance occasionally at the American surtitles, because the book is a load of tosh and all the lyrics seem to be about the same thing – the joy of living. What makes this show special is the full-on staging of the songs, which range from soaring ballads to pounding club anthems and include a novelty number. Yes, this is a live mini version of the Eurovision Song Contest – incomprehensible lyrics, glittery costumes in lurid colours, half naked dancers gyrating all around the singers, flashing lights and lasers, psychedelic back projections and all of it unashamedly camp. Just like Eurovision, occasional suspicions that someone may actually be taking it seriously add to the amusement. The only things missing are (thankfully) the roll call of results and (sadly) Graham Norton’s commentary. Spectacularly entertaining.

Performance date: 14 August 2014

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