"I'm unmoved but certainly intrigued"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 28/01/19

All I can say is 'Wow' - not the play I'll come to that later.

But the complete refurbishment of Charing Cross Theatre.

It now has a moving revolve right over the middle of the floor with the auditorium on two sides. Matching this above is a huge circle of light which Howard Hudson has used for some unusual lighting effects. Morgan Large's set is created with plants of wood across the balcony walls, decorated with pictures of faces and biblical references scrawled across them.

This is to herald in the new musical set in the sixties. 'Violet' is the study of a girl who thinks she is ugly, with a scar on her right cheek. She feels self conscious, not like other girls and unworthy of love. So she is taking a trip on a greyhound bus from Spruce Pine in North Carolina to Tulsa,Oklahoma, where she believes the Bill Graham style Preacher will be able to lay his hands on her blemish and cure it.

There are two Violets on stage. The current one and Violet as a child, accompanied by her late father. The two Violets work together and occasionally, their voices are heard in a kind of jangle of noise. Apart from these cacaphonic sounds which drown the dialogue, , the music is pleasant tuneful rock.

The child Violet adores her father who teaches her how to play poker - something that comes in very handy on the Greyhound bus as she plays the game with a couple of solders. Monty, a white corporal and Flick, black and a sergeant. Flick appreciates the girl because he too has suffered mockery and discrimination because of his black face. He is a little apprehensive about Monty who is a predator and would definitely try to get the girl into bed.
They have several stops on the way, and the girl and the soldiers get to know each other well. They go to Nashville and Memphis to a bar they know where there are rent girls dressed to kill.

To tell any more story would be a spoiler but it is a simple story of love, sex, religion and abandonment.
There are some really fine tunes,sung by some great voices. Flick, the coloured soldier has one of the best numbers 'Let it sing' which has a kind of rap feeling about it and almost brought the audience to its feet.. Another very sweet song is a lullabye 'Lay down Your Head' sung by the amazingly powerful Violet played by Swedish actress Kais Hammerlund. She has a good belting voice, but has a chance for sweetness in this number.

There is a lot of fun when we arrive in Tulsa to meet the preacher and his followers dressed in red and white robes. - all doing a kind of manic uncontrolled dancing as they worship him. Kenneth Avery Clark manages to inject a little Trumpitude into he speeches which adds some comedy to the proceedings.

This Violet seems a bit on the tough side for a heroine. I appreciated her performance but found it difficult to be as sympathetic as I guess we are supposed to be. This play is great to watch and the music is good and variable. I am not sure whether the story will touch hearts. It left me unmoved but certainly intrigued.

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