Pippin at The Garden Theatre

Pippin is a show I have seen numerous times and in many different styles but seeing it in an outdoor theatre with just 6 performers was a first for me!

The show tells of ‘Pippin,’ son of the king who wants to lead an extraordinary life. He tries to find this in many places, from war to sex and from revolting against the King to being king himself. However the players in Pippin’s story want a big finish to the show and begin to manipulate the story for their own means.

Photos by Bonnie Britain

LambCo’s production of Pippin is taken back to its route and is a bright and colourful one. The walls are adored with tie dye and bright fabric streamers, it is almost reminiscent of a set you might expect to see for ‘Hair.’ However this bright and colourful vibe fits in brilliantly with the feel of the show itself. Many of the cast members play multiple roles and there are many high energy moments throughout the piece.

This show has been trimmed to 90 minutes which means that the action is fast paced and the story moves along at a rapid rate.

Ryan Anderson plays Pippin himself, with a boyish grin he attacks everything from war to leading his country with a naïve innocence, quite often the character of Pippin can become a bit irritating but the innocence that Anderson portrays him with stops this from happening. Joanne Clifton takes on the roles of Fastrada and Bertha – Pippin’s step-mother and grandmother. These are not the type of roles I would have expected to see Clifton in however she really delivers with these comedy centric roles, showing to all that she is much more than a beautiful dancer.

Tsemaye Bob-Egbe is the Leading Player who captures the audiences interest as soon as she opens her mouth to sing her first note. She appears to almost float above the action and plays it with a serene calmness but unlike any other portrayal that I have seen before which fits in well with the more hippy feeling of this production. Tainisha-Mae Brown plays Catherine and her innocence as Catherine compliments Anderson nicely. Harry Francis plays Lewis, Pippin’s soldier brother and Theo, Catherine’s young son. His physicality and the stark difference of the body language he uses to portray these two characters is beautifully done. Finally Dan Krikler plays Charles, Pippin’s father and King, who really comes into his own with his number ‘War Is A Science,’ and allows Krikler to show off his comedy ability. Whilst the cast are all brilliantly suited to their roles it was lovely to see a range of experience within the cast, from a well known strictly champ to someone making their professional debut.

Despite each performer having their own roles and moments to shine the piece works best when they are performing as a troupe. The dance, with choreography by Nick Winston, is acrobatic and energetic with the cast leaping off the set and bounding across the stage, making you forget you are in a small pub garden.

This is a wonderful chance to see Pippin in a totally different format by a cast whose energy could fill the Palladium but the small audience are given the chance to see them up close and personal.

Pippin is running at The Garden Theatre at the Eagle until 11th October.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Fanny & Stella (which also talks about the social distancing measures at The Garden Theatre, Jesus Christ Superstar at Regents Park Open Air Theatre and my review of Six from the Arts Theatre ahead of it’s opening at the Lyric Theatre.

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