The second of the Donmar Warehouse’s concert celebrations for Sondheim’s 80th birthday turns attention to his 1970 score Company. This one was a hit for the Donmar back in 1995 and as with last weeks Merrily We Roll Along features many of the cast of that production.
Also like Merrily Company is not your traditional linear plot structure, with Company featuring a series of loosely connected scenes around 35yr old Bobby’s quest for (or avoidance of love).
Company is also an examination of the loneliness big city living can bring and the pressure to conform to preconceived ideas about marriage. As with all Sondheim scores it’s also a celebration of wit and wordplay.
Without being indelicate there is obviously a problem with a 15year company being reassembled to play thirty something’s but the concert makes not attempt to hide the mismatch in ages and instead makes some wry humour of any script references to age.
Despite the mismatch in ages now there are some nice performances here. Sophie Thompson gives echoes of Acorn Antiques Mrs Overall with her rendition of Not Getting Married Today while Haydn Gwynne more than overcomes any comparisons with Elaine Stritch in Ladies That Lunch. The Gentlemen perhaps fair less well, with Adrian Lester giving a spirited performance bur lacking the real vocal power needed for the role of Bobby while the other men in the cast seemed upstaged by their female counterparts.
Gareth Valentines musical direction was once again lively, drawing the most of his 8 piece ensemble (and even managing a mid show dance routine) but overall this wasn’t as rich a sound as last week’s Merrily.
The Donmar are rightly proud of their Sondheim back catalogue and here’s looking forward to a long continuing association.