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Great for Lord of the Rings fans, but perhaps overrated
The Lord of the Rings
Member Name: Worthington87
The Lord of the Rings
Advantages: good use of lighting and space
Disadvantages: characters a bit weak and just not all its cracked up to be
The Lord of the Rings films didn't win an award for nothing so how does the theatre production match up to the true story? I went to see it on it's third night of showing at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane, you could say it was pretty good.
Certainly the theatre production is everything you would expect, elaborate, fast paced (due to a shortening of the story), dynamic and makes good entertainment for all. The tale tells of a hobbit whose mission it is to destroy a powerful and evil ring, in a fantasy-like world. While the theatre is particularly true to the actual story, especially the ending which the film omits, it thankfully manages to miss out some little bits that would have made it incredibly long otherwise. Notably, the trees fighting with rocks battle would have made it hard to feature on stage anyway.
While it was very fast paced at the beginning and almost seemed slightly rushed with not enough emphasis on why the ring is so dangerous, after the interval things started to pick up and become more exciting with lots of action, fighting included.
Highlights were Bilbo Baggins mysteriously disappearing at the beginning when he puts on the ring, and it certainly didn't look like he fell through the door... he just vanished. One could only wonder how they managed to do that.
Acrobatics played a good part as well, the actors making use of the air as well as the floor, such as Gollum's cousin swimming through the water from the ceiling, and elves hanging from the ceiling on thick ribbons. And besides Gollum being very entertaining with his split conscious/personality and his erratic body movements to convey this, the Orcs were good as well, their costumes as menacing as they are meant to be and while the use of stilts was used to create a certain movement, at times they looked like monkeys.
The stage is the mid section of a tree trunk when it is cut, covered by dark vines on the walls. Since it was the third night showing and there were a couple of accidental hiccups, notably one of the benches snapping in half towards the end of the dance and music, the actors were very enthusiastic and made good use of the ever changing stage space, whether it be through the choreography or traveling. The moving stage itself is cleverly made up of lots of levels or 'elevators' that raise up the air to visually divide what is happening on stage, and it has particularly good use for the volcano scene.
What is most incredible of all, and what the production might not have been as good without, is the cunning use of lighting to create different moods, atmosphere and weather - from the volcanic terrain of Mordor and the lush greenery of the forest, to the windy cold blizzard with the arrival of the Black Knights.
Singing was mostly female throughout where something dramatic was happening though it seemed slightly repetitive at times, though the music however was generally fitting and typically 'epic' and when concerned with the elves, almost ethereal. The fighting was mute and conveyed more of a dance than a fight.
As I watched this performance from the balcony (highly unrecommended because of the distance and inability to see the actors faces as well as the cramped seats), the people down by the front on the stage level were getting a lot more interaction from the ongoings of stage and shrieks from children could be heard when they spotted a giant spider on stage and when at the interval the Orcs playfully scared them by prancing up and down the aisles. From the balcony it was also difficult at times to distinguish who was who from Gandalf the White and Saruman both in white long shifts and at a distance, the only thing to distinguish them is the colour of their staffs. At times when there was a crowd on stage it was hard to spot who was talking from such a distance.
Some of the characters were pretty weak and not as strong as they should be, though Gandalf was the exception as he seemed to prove to be the leader, but perhaps this is down to the fact that I saw it on only its third night of showing.
All in all the performance prompted a few laughs, especially from the theatrics of Gollum and Pippin (?) who is scared of trees, the whole thing had clearly been well rehearsed with everything being on cue and it seems that it is a very high budget production. What makes it slightly different of course is the musical aspect of it but whether you enjoy this is down to personal taste. One can't help thinking that the production did fall ever so slightly short of its 'hype' and while it was true to the story, call me a critic but I for one wasn't particularly blown away.
Hardcore Lord of the Rings fans: If you want to be whisked away for three hours to a fantasy action fairytale adventure go see this, don't go with standards of high expectation or you may not come out smiling and please don't buy the cheapest seats and then you're almost guaranteed to enjoy it.
>> location: London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
>> Ticket prices: depends what seat you get but eh prices are steadily rising for this and the priciest tickets are about £55+
Summary: the majority of adults will enjoy this
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