Review – Titanic (the Musical) – Southwark Playhouse


There is something just terribly exciting about seeing a full song and dance show done in as small of a space as the Southwark Playhouse. The actors are so _right there_, brushing past you when they walk, nearly bursting your eardrums when they sing at full volume (with minor amplification). And with a director who really knows how to move people around and use minor stage setting to, well, build The Titanic right there in your lap, well, how can you not want to leap up and give a big standing O at the end of the show. Such daring! Such imagination! So very much singing!

So, I imagine, 90% of the audience must have felt after seeing last night’s final preview of Titanic, but I was not one of them. The costumes, the choreography, the singing, it was all very good …but I was bored. Bored bored bored. Bored as in really desperately hoping for the iceberg to show up after the first hour. Bored despite all of the riches on display.

And why? Because this musical is a dog. There’s no attempt to build a story or create more than two dimensional characters: the entire first act is really just about creating sympathy so we can feel more torn up at the end. And the songs, well, I was really, really hoping I would walk out whistling a tune, but I don’t think there was one, not in the whole show.

I did find three songs noteworthy, the best of them being the song the aged Strauss couple sing to each other about their love still being strong after decades – it had the same wistful quality as the pineapple song from Cabaret. I also enjoyed the telegrapher’s song (an unusual topic and a nice life story) and the “blame” song the ship’s owner, engineer, and captain hurled at each other.

But but but … No. Not enough. Not enough for me, anyway. I’m guessing it’s beautifully done enough to suit many people’s tastes, but any show where you are actively wishing for a disaster to happen cannot be seen as a success in anyone’s book.

(This review is for a performance that took place July 30th, 2013.)

2 Responses to “Review – Titanic (the Musical) – Southwark Playhouse”

  1. Simon Parris Says:

    Jealous you saw this as the show is so rarely performed! We have only had it one in Australia, and that was in Sydney (I live in Melbourne, but I flew up for it!)
    Sorry to read that you didn’t enjoy it, though I definitely agree with your list of songs that you liked the best!

  2. seejaybe43 Says:

    I was one of the 90 per cent who enjoyed this wonderful show and fail to see how anyone could profess themselves ‘bored’. There are so many good tunes – some you mention, others like the Rag and most of the huge opening sequence that rightly stopped the show – you don’t acknowledge. This is a slow burner of a piece of musical theatre that will undoubtedly gain recognition for its genius over time and take its place in the pantheon of great musicals alongside Carousel, Sweeney Todd and other enduring classics long after Matilda (songs, what songs?) and the rest have been forgotten..

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