Tam­sin Greig swaps the small screen for the stage in a mu­si­cal adap­ta­tion of a cult cin­ema clas­sic, writes Do­minic Wells.

Where London - - Contents -

Pe­dro Almod­ó­var’s film Women On The Verge Of A Ner­vous Break­down is trans­formed into a mu­si­cal.

W omenOnTheVergeOfANer­vous Break­down is the lat­est in a long line of films adapted as mu­si­cals, but it’s a bolder, more in­ter­est­ing choice than a Hol­ly­wood hit such as Le­gal­lyBlonde or Dir­tyDanc­ing. WomenOn­TheV­erge… (1988) gave cult Span­ish di­rec­tor Pe­dro Almod­ó­var his first in­ter­na­tional hit. And with its hi­lar­i­ously twisty plot, in which mul­ti­ple sto­ries of love and des­per­a­tion con­verge via gaz­pa­cho laced with sleep­ing pills and a chase to the air­port in a ‘Mambo Taxi’, it has enough el­e­ments of farce to make ideal ma­te­rial for the stage.

Even so, the Broad­way pro­duc­tion in 2010 failed to ig­nite and closed early, de­spite three Tony nom­i­na­tions. The West End ver­sion has been sub­stan­tially re­tooled by the orig­i­nal cre­ators, Jef­frey Lane and David Yazbek, cur­rently en­joy­ing a hit with Dir­tyRot­ten Scoundrels, and Almod­ó­var him­self sat in on work­shops and gave the pro­duc­tion his seal of ap­proval.

It also has a not-so-se­cret weapon: Tam­sin Greig. The name may be un­fa­mil­iar out­side the UK, but she is both a ra­zor-sharp come­di­enne in TV se­ries such as Green­Wing and Episodes, and a fine stage ac­tress, win­ner of the Olivier Award for MuchA­doAbout

Noth­ing. The sur­prise is that she can also sing. ‘I feel very for­tu­nate to have been en­cour­aged − well, bul­lied − by my agent to have singing lessons,’ Greig has said. Di­rec­tor Bartlett Sher, who helmed the Broad­way pro­duc­tion, says her per­for­mance is key: ‘We would not be do­ing it with­out her.’

The proof will be in the pud­ding – or rather, the sleep­ing pill-laced gaz­pa­cho – when the cur­tain rises on a colour­ful 1980s Madrid. But with a strong fe­male cast, in­clud­ing Willemijn Verkaik from Wicked and the bril­liant TV and stage ac­tress Haydn Gwynne, this could be a mu­si­cal on the verge of great­ness.

"The twisty plot has enough el­e­ments of farce to make ideal ma­te­rial for the stage"

From 16 Dec. Northum­ber­land Ave, WC2N 5DE. T: 0844 871 7631. www.play­housethe­atrelon­don.com

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