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Review: Fury and Elysium (The Other Palace, Studio)

Review by Raphael Kohn


Welcome to the studio of The Other Palace, nestled deep beneath the main house. Come in, come in. Let’s watch a musical about sexual freedom and political revolution set in Weimar-era Germany. No, not the famous one, a brand-new musical. It’s a tough niche to break into, given the success of Cabaret (especially with the groundbreaking production at the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre at the moment). But daringly, a new production, Fury and Elysium, plucks up the courage to give it a good shot, and try hard it does.


Not bound by the constraints of being based on a movie or book as so many new musicals are (although based on real-life individuals tied together), Fury and Elysium examines the lives of six characters, all women, in Weimar-era Germany. It’s a pleasure to be a queer Jewish reviewer at a queer Jewish show - indeed, Fury and Elysium proudly brings to the stage stories of queer Jewish women in a way that is truly a joy to behold.



Of course, no musical is complete without high-quality music, and luckily, composer Calista Kazuko Georget has brought us brilliant tunes. Starting each act with a haunting melody sung by the inimitable Maya Tenenbaum (more on her and the other performers later), the dark and brooding mood is instantly set, while lighter numbers, especially involving Danielle Steers, are joys to behold. Georget’s score is jovial, sensual and yet brilliantly reflective - a perfect example of the kind of musical writing we need in the world of new musicals here in London.


This score is excellently orchestrated for a band of three - piano, double bass and drums. Nestled away carefully in the corner of The Other Palace yet with an inescapable presence, the band are a great accompaniment, and although I couldn’t help but wish for a slightly thicker orchestration to provide a bit more variety in musical texture, for a first run of this new musical as it finds its feet before its inevitable journey to bigger venues, I left impressed by the tight trio.



Notably, the press performance I attended lacked one thing - one of its lead performers. Iz Hesketh, of Rent and Legally Blonde fame, was taken ill on the night and their role was instead played on-book by the production’s ‘super-swing’ Charlotte Clitherow. ‘Super’ does not even begin to describe Clitherow, who understudies all six roles in the show, yet who (while on-book) brilliantly embodied the role from her seated position on stage. She is surrounded by a cast of star performers, such as Danielle Steers, a performer with such stage presence and voice to match that it’s difficult to take your eyes off her.


Similarly, Michael Horowicz and Rosie Yadid are excellent performers in their roles as ‘The Socialist’ and ‘The Dada’ respectively, bringing political unrest and artistic tension to the musical in style. The cast is completed by Maya Tenenbaum and Ashley Goh, whose subtlety in gentler moments and pure voices, yet dramatic power when needed are huge assets to the production. It is rare to see such a powerfully talented cast with so little to dislike, and Fury and Elysium delivers talent upon talent in its performers.



This production gives its performers very little set and few props to work with - and frankly, this is probably for the best. Set on the tiny platform at The Other Palace’s studio, shrunken even smaller by the band’s setup, the production mainly takes place on a black stage with few props. The performers are given costumes by George Thompson that, instead of showing us what the characters are with makeup and costuming clues, boldly display verbally who each character is, emblazoning each performer with words such as ‘The Socialist’ and ‘The Writer’ to state who the characters that each performer is playing. It’s probably not a choice that would have come across well at a larger venue and bigger production, but for this initial production, it works well.


Yet, the production can’t seem to escape its similarities to Cabaret. Delivering musical numbers reminiscent of famous numbers in Cabaret such as Cabaret’s titular number, as well as a setting and plot that is inevitably vaguely reminiscent of Cabaret, I couldn’t help but compare the two as the stories play out similarly with musical and lyrical mirrorings throughout. It’s no bad thing - Cabaret is a work of genius - but there just seemed to be a lack of a distinct theatrical identity for Fury and Elysium at times. I can be sure that given this is a first run of a new musical, there can be much improvement and development expected before its inevitable rejuvenation and progression in another venue, and I honestly wait with excitement to see how Fury and Elysium forges its own identity over the coming months and years.



It may not be a perfect, side-splittingly funny and emotionally devestating musical, but Fury and Elysium is a great example of the brilliant theatre being produced from scratch in the UK. With an excellent ensemble cast and writing displaying much promise, there is much to love in this new musical and so much to look forward to as it continues its development - this is certainly a great new musical with a bright future.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Fury and Elysium plays at The Other Palace studio until 18th June. Tickets are available from https://theotherpalace.co.uk/fury-and-elysium/


Photos by Lexi Clare

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