Treason – The Musical in Concert ★★★ Theatre Royal Drury Lane | August 22 & 23, 2022

For failed-revolution musicals, Les Misérables set a very high bar. Treason does not quite meet that standard – perhaps, because it does not have the advantage of Victor Hugo's amazing plot and richly complex characters. While Treason has some high points, it is finally unclear what the narrative is about. The tension in the story between Thomas Percy's commitment to his Catholic faith and his devotion to his wife never really catches fire. In fact, the recounting of the history of the Gunpowder Plot often seems to get in the way of telling a good tale. The introduction of a narrator seemed unnecessary and intrusive, and the reduction of Robert Cecil (Les Dennis) and King James (Daniel Boys) to comic figures robbed the piece of considerable tension. While we enjoyed Dennis' humorous song "Paperwork," his contemporary political allusions took us out of the world being created and into the realm of pantomime. Similarly, the song "A Woman's Role" seemed to come out to nowhere. It was the performances of Bradley Jaden as Percy, and particularly, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Martha Percy that elevated the whole evening. Fletcher's rendition of "When Will I See You Again?" was the stand out moment of the night. There are some fascinating themes here: personal and political betrayal, romantic versus religious devotion, differing paths to achieve change and to secure redemption. Treason touches on all these issues, but unlike its would-be revolutionaries it does not seem to commit to any of them.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Senior.

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