Have you ever wanted to kill the president of the United States of America?
Assassins tells the stories of 9 people who have attempted to assassinate the most powerful man in the world. With the help of the Proprietor, the Balladeer and the ensemble, these people tell the stories through music by Stephen Sondheim and a book by John Weidman. The show takes us through each individual story, but also manages to intertwine the characters to add depth to their stories.
This production was the directorial debut of Zoë Thirsk, and what a great job Thirsk did! While some may call the production simple, the sets, whilst appearing basic on first impressions, was actually more complex than it appeared without being too over complicated and taking your eyes away from the characters for too long. Thirsk’s decisions added to the overall performance and it’s definitely a name to keep an eye on in the future.
Given the size of the theatre, the band, led by Josie Conti and Mark Newberry, were at the side of the stage, but still gave a full and complete sound that could be heard throughout the theatre. There were moments when it felt as though the band were louder than the actors, however this appeared to be more of a microphone issue for a couple of the actors, rather than the band being too loud.
The actors themselves were a joy to watch. As an ensemble piece, there was no weak link in the chain. Shaun Holdom-Eyles, as John Wilkes Booth was captivating and completely immersed in the character, which although there was no specific lead in this show, it felt like he was the one in the majority of the scenes, and almost like the devil on your shoulder, to some of the other assassins. Other notable performances were from Thomas Loughlin as Charles J Guiteau and Trev Fleming as Samuel Byck, who definitely got the most laughs for their portrayals, and Shane Bear as the Balladeer, whose vocals were striking.
Any Stephen Sondheim fan will love this entertaining version of historical events, but it is definitely worth seeing if you love musicals in general, or even if you love history.
Assassins is on at the Unity theatre until 9th June. To book tickets phone 0151 709 4988 or visit www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk
Reviewer: Jenn McKean
Reviewed: 6th June 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★