Creating musical theatre around historic events has become an increasingly popular thing to do within the last few years, following on from the international successes of Hamilton and Six. However, it doesn’t always work, and unfortunately, that is the case with Treason the Musical.

Treason began its life as a 5 track EP in 2020, before a concert was globally streamed the following year. In 2022 the show was staged in a concert production at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and this year, the show has embarked on a mini tour, the first time the show has been staged in full. As the name suggests the musical focuses on the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the infamous unsuccessful attempt to kill King James I by a group of English Catholics, led by Robert Catesby. Although we still put Guy Fawkes on the bonfire each year, the story is largely forgotten for the most part, as seen here, Fawkes was just a part of this group, and there are many other stories to tell about the other members.

Philip Witcomb’s wooden set aptly replicates the period, and beautifully incorporates Jason Taylor’s tender lighting, with lights shining through the wood, and candles galore – it truly is beautiful to look at. However, there is a gap at the top of the set, through which you can see outside, behind the stage, which is distracting, and cheapens the looks somewhat.

Ricky Allan’s score is vast, there are a lot of musical numbers within the show, yet they unfortunately lack variety, and I struggle to recall any particular songs as I sit to write this review. For half of the first Act, there is a sparse amount of choreography incorporated. Overall, many of the songs are slowed down in tempo, meaning the dancing is contemporary style and drawn out. There were also sections with just a couple of dancers and this could have been tighter and more in sync. Set pieces, mostly tables and chairs, are brought on and off throughout, but the main set stays the same for most of the show, which causes the production to feel rather static, which impedes the pacing. The transitions into songs also feel clunky. To aid pacing and to enable the audience to follow the plot, these transitions need to be finessed, and some songs can be cut without hindering the plot. Also, at the end of Act One bright lights flash, and I mean very bright, I had to look away, and on the Alexandra Palace website, there is no warning of this.

The performances are strong across the board, Nicole Raquel Dennis’ voice is powerful, and there are some beautiful harmonies. Oscar Conlon-Morrey’s charisma lights up the stage, he provides much-needed comic relief throughout and steals the show. Gabriel Akamo has an excellent stage presence, but feels like a background character as Fawkes, despite being the one person everyone knows of. His spoken word performance needs better diction, as from further back in the auditorium it was difficult to make out the lyrics.

One of the main issues with the production is that it lacks originality, it feels somewhere between Hamilton and Les Misérables, where it ought to be trying to be its own show. The drama and score feel reminiscent of Les Misérables, and the stylisation of the production, the ensemble dressed in neutral colours, the chair choreography, and even a small section of spoken word/rap, feel far too close to Hamilton.

I can see the vision of what this production is trying to do, but the event in history the show is focused upon doesn’t captivate attention for the 2 hours 20 minutes run time. The storytelling is confused throughout, with so many characters it is difficult to follow, and it’s unclear who we are supposed to root for, it simultaneously depicts the King and the Catholics both as the villains, and then even their wives. Plus, Britain is becoming increasingly unreligious, therefore the plot is unrelatable to people living in the 21st century – apart from hating the government – I think we can all relate to that.

Unfortunately, as the show is currently, despite excellent performances, I fear this may not be a show to remember, remember.

Rating: 2 out of 5.


{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, High Tide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE
    Drum roll please…(Cue a literal drum rolling across the stage.) The Lyric pantomime is one of traditions with the return of many well-loved jokes and skits. Costumes and sets are all made at the Lyric itself by Good Teeth, with set pieces being reused year on year. This year Cinderella gets the Hammersmith makeover, with some success. The costuming is fun and vibrant, with the ugly stepsisters’ equine pyjamas and hoop-skirted ball gowns giving all the wrong kinds of extra you need for those characters. Cinderella’s on stage dress transformation is magical and really well-timed. The Dame, Lady Jelly-Bottom’s, outfits … More CINDERELLA – REVIEW – LYRIC HAMMERSMITH
    Amy catches up with Linus Karp ahead of his performance of Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, at London’s Clapham Grand. Linus and Joseph of Awkward Productions are also the masterminds behind the new show Gwyneth Goes Skiing. Hello Your Majesty/ Candle Entrepreneur, how are you feeling coming back from a hugely successful fringe and triumphant tour across your kingdom, ahead of performing in front of 700 of your loyal subjects, and before (the list never ends!) opening a brand new show, which has recently gone viral? Exhausted, exhilarated and alive. We’ve had the most ridiculous year – I feel … More INTERVIEW – LINUS KARP – DIANA: THE UNTOLD AND UNTRUE STORY

Leave a Reply