Violet at Charing Cross Theatre
Violet has finally hit London. The show premiered off Broadway in 1997 and Sutton Foster starred in a one night concert on Broadway in 2014 which lead to a short run on Broadway. Violet has now hit the London stage. It tells of Violet, a disfigured girl who travels from Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Tulsa Oklahoma in order to meet a faith healer. Along the way she meets 2 soldiers and an unlikely friendship is developed between them.
The show is a tender one that switches between the present day and flashbacks to young Violet. The audience learn that she wasn’t born with the scar and you see young Violet struggling to come to terms with her appearance. The issue is that, as the title suggests, the focus of the musical is on Violet herself and whilst she is an intriguing character she isn’t particularly sympathetic. This combined with the fact that the rest of the characters are under developed means that the musical leaves you feeling a bit empty and not really rooting for anyone or any particular outcome.
Kasia Hammarlund as Violet however acts her socks off. You easily believe that she is disfigured as she flinches every time somebody tries to touch her or look at her directly in the face. The creative team have chosen to leave Hammarlund without a disfigurement, instead allowing the audience to imagine Violet’s affliction, a clever device which is particularly useful as the plot develops.
Flick and Monty are played by Jay Marsh and Matthew Harvey who provide a contrasting take on how men perceive Violet. I particularly enjoyed Marsh’s voice in ‘Let It Sing’ where the soulful vibe of the show really came through. There were glimmers in their personalities that I would have loved to have seen explored further within the show.
The music is varied within the show and often uses the location of Greyhound stop as inspiration as to the style. There is a mixture of gospel, soul and country as well as a more modern sound to some of the music. This helped keep interest although I would struggle to hmm you any of the melodies after leaving the theatre.
The show is designed beautifully. The Charing Cross Theatre is laid out in the Traverse for the first time. There is good use made of a simple revolve, particularly effective with this layout. The set is simplistic and transforms from the Greyhound bus to a motel room with the clever use of suitcases and a few chairs.
Violet is a pleasant show although due to lack of character development and any real empathy for any of the characters, slightly underwhelming.
Violet is running at the Charing Cross Theatre until 6th April. To find out more about the show visit Charing Cross Theatre’s website.