Xanadu at Southwark Playhouse

Xanadu is based on the 1980’s film, starring Olivia Newton-John. It tells the story of Sonny Malone who is an aspiring artist. The mural he is painting springs to life and out of it comes the Greek muses including, Clio, who changes her name to Kira for her time on earth. She tried to inspire Sonny and he decides to go into business with Danny, a local property developer, and set up an place for this arts including a roller disco. However in doing so Kira falls in love with Sonny, something that is strictly forbidden.


Photos-Paul Coltas

I have to say Xanadu is probably the campest show I have ever seen and this is not a criticism as for this show to succeed it needs to be this way. The storyline is not one of great depth and this production does not pretend otherwise but it mocks the film and itself causing much hilarity at points. The highlight is when Kira declares she is going to speak in an Australian accent, despite the show being set in LA, in order to fit in. The centaur appearing on stage had the audience in stitches.

Kira/Clio is played by Carly Anderson who is perfect for the role. Not only does she have a resemblance to Olivia Newton John and able to maintain a brilliant Australian accent but her comedy timing is spot on for this role. Each over exaggerated facial expression achieved maximum impact and clearly let the audience know that the cast themselves weren’t taking the plot too seriously. She also had a great voice and looked thoroughly at ease on roller skates or even at one point roller skate singular. My other personal highlight of the show was Calliope played by Lizzie Connolly whose body language and physicality was exaggerated down to a t for the jealous sister. Sonny is played by Samuel Edwards and I loved his interpretation of Sonny – slightly dim but with a good heart. I also liked the muses as a collective – they all seemed to have their own personality which worked well but also worked efficiently as a team, moving and signing well together.
xanaduI also thought the choreography by Nathan M Wright was very strong and placed the show firmly in the 1980’s and continued the tongue in cheek theme. The number ‘Physical’ which opened act 2 was great fun but I was also impressed with the roller skating choreography, especially in a smaller space.

One thing I love about the Southwark Playhouse is how different it looks every time I see it. This time was no exception. The set design for Xanadu by Morgan Large was clever as it clearly gave us the impression of a roller disco at the same time as having levels and allowing the quirky side of the show shine through via interludes from the clouds!!

Xanadu is a perfect show to see if you are after a night of camp entertainment and one where you will leave with a smile on your face and the occasional giggle to yourself as you remember some of the scenes and jokes.


Xanadu is on at the Southwark playhouse until 21st November 2015. You can buy tickets here.


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