Christopher Walker reviews The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Fancy a Cornish Pasty?

Well head over to Southwark Elephant for a wonderful production complete with seagulls, sea shanties and “Oh arrrr” accents.

Southwark Playhouse has long been a successful fringe venue, so it is perhaps no surprise that it is multiplying.

Last year it renamed itself Southwark Playhouse Borough, and opened a new branch Southwark Playhouse Elephant.

Plans are afoot for a third outlet, Southwark Playhouse London Bridge in 2025.

Beware confusion on Google Maps.

It continues some of the highest production standards on the fringe in a new musical version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The Company. Photo Juan Coolio

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the piece in 1922, a curious short story that plays with the idea of a man who lives his life backwards.

Born as a seventy year old man, rather than aging he proceeds to get younger every day.

Whilst this might seem like a wonderful idea to those of us addicted to wrinkle creams, time seems never to be on Benjamin’s side.

The work is thought provoking, if not without its faults.

A film version with Brad Pitt was called “Twee Tedium.”

This charming musical version is by Jethro Compton and Darren Clark.

And for once an American piece is transferred to Britain.

The production is quite faultless.

A wonderful sense of Cornwall is delivered Anna Kelsey’s costumes and Jethro’s salty stage design.

Himself a Cornishman, Jethro says, “for me this is a story about home,” and the story of “someone who is different” but “searching for somewhere to belong.” As such it has universal appeal.

This is especially in the hands of a simply outstanding cast.

They can sing, dance, act, and move the action forwards with clockwork precision.

Jamie Parker is particularly strong in the demanding title role, and Molly Osbourne wins hearts as his love interest.

There’s also plenty of comedy from Jonathan Charles, Philippa Hogg, and Ann Marcuson. And some serious acting from Benedict Salter and Jack Quarton.

There are tears. Next time you look in the mirror be careful what you wish for.


Photos: Juan Coolio 

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