A Tight Schedule-Between, Apollo Theatre, review: An ‘enthralling, superbly textured’ musical form of L P Hartley’s novel
Michael Crawford returns towards the West Finish, following a five-year break, inside a piece that’s appreciably not the same as the type of shows (Barnum, The Phantom from the Opera) that rocketed him to stardom. There is no danger of mistaking A Tight Schedule-Between for any noisy blockbuster however that does not signify any lack of ambition within this enthralling, superbly textured chamber-musical form of the LP Hartley novel in regards to a boy’s lack of innocence throughout a country house visit within the scorchingly hot summer time of 1900.
The variation, by composer Richard Taylor and David Wood, employs a tool unavailable towards the first-person book nor the 1971 movie, scripted by Harold Pinter and starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates. It fleshes out a dialogue between present and past. A rediscovered diary invokes the figures from that originally golden three week holiday in the Norfolk pile of the upper-class school-friend. They sternly urge the 62-year-old Leo Colson, whose existence continues to be stunted by his encounters in those days, to create them free by confronting his demons. Crawford, now 74, offers a remarkably moving and sensitively sang performance because this desiccated protagonist, who, having a sad, penetrating gaze, apprehensively abandons his solitude to shadow the 12-year-old form of themself – leading to disastrous effects – who had been employed to ferry secret messages between Marian (Gemma Sutton), the gorgeous daughter of the home, and her tenant-player lover, Ted (Stuart Ward).
The show unfolds like a shimmering web of singing and dialogue – it’s scored for any solitary on-stage grand piano that Nigel Lilley coaxes wealthy orchestral colours – and also the musical ideas don’t frequently merge into what could typically certainly be a “number”. The wonderful exception for this rule is ‘Butterfly’ – a floaty, twirling song of exaltation where the seniors Colson recalls the discharge-from-the-chrysalis aftereffect of Marian’s favour, as the boy Leo is hoisted aloft, arms out-extended and undulant within the Lincoln subsequently eco-friendly suit that they had just bought him. Crawford sings it in a manner that piercingly suggests both vulnerability and also the strength which are conferred by appreciated rapture.
Most musicals would place a tune as lovely as that through a minumum of one hefty reprise, however the priority here’s dramatising the storyline as powerfully as you possibly can. Therefore the echoes are fragmentary and telling – for instance, within the suspended moment when youthful Leo weighs up if you should clasp the proffered hands of Ted, the tune ironically returns because he begins to awaken towards the treachery of adult games. 13-year-old William Thompson (among the three actors rotating within the part) was quite superb the night time I saw Roger Haines’s production. He teaches you a boy, from his class as well as on the edge of adolescence, whose desire to slot in together with his own confused curiosity lay him bare to exploitation a feeling he imparts of the lad no sooner blossoming than blighted is heart-rending, with no least touch of melodrama.
I can tell why some may think the show, using its silvery attic room-of-memory set and it is trapped, subjective atmosphere, verges around the precious at points. But, in my experience, it seems like a work of affection that, while faithful towards the original, includes a striking imaginative integrity on its own.
To Fifteen October 0330 333 4809
Buy tickets for that Go-Between with Independent Tickets