The following are samples of my reviews – including my opinions on Dear Evan Hansen, Weathering With You and Six: The Musical.

Dear Evan Hansen

I was first introduced to Dear Evan Hansen, when I was on YouTube, listening to songs from Hamilton. But, I was not in a situation where I actually listened to it until my housemate played one of the songs and I recognised Ben Platt’s voice. That night, I listened to the entire soundtrack and I made the thorough descent into obsession.

We bought presale tickets for the show, having freaked out when we found out it came to the UK. And, managed to watch the show within the first two weeks of its run.

I had gone into the show with high expectations and all of them were met; we had a great view and were made very emotional by the cast’s handling of such an emotional and raw, heavy subject like suicide and having context of the story at my disposal made me weep.

Characters I didn’t initially understand the motives of, like Alana Beck came alive and were so easy to relate to – Nicole Raquel Dennis’ acting was superb and really changed my opinion on Alana, who I initially just thought was pushy. The show really provided the chances for the most minor characters to make mistakes in desperation, like Alana releasing Connor Murphy’s supposed suicide note onto the internet. I related immensely to her struggles to feel accepted by her peers while desperately looking for a place where she would fit.

My favourite part, however, was the staging, everything from the use of artificial social media feeds, which had me convinced it was a live twitter dashboard, to the way that phones were cast down onto the stage in the form of spotlights was phenomenal. The nuanced movements between feeling shut out and welcomed was so emotive, when it was something as simple as a 180 degree turn. I had not seen these methods being used before and I was absolutely floored.

I hope to get the chance to see the show again soon, but until then, I keep the soundtrack downloaded on my phone.

Dear Evan Hansen is playing at the Noel Coward Theatre in London and tickets are available to purchase up to 30th May 2020

Weathering With You

‘Weathering With You’ is a film by Makoto Shinkai, released in the UK on 17th January 2020. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to watch it on 18th January with several friends. The following is a short, spoiler-free review of the film.

In short, I adored a lot of aspects of the movie. The aesthetics were amazing – it is a quality I find myself constantly enamoured with. The animators did a fantastic job bringing this story to life, and the artists manage to draw vibrant city-scapes with such love and colour whilst not deterring from the colour palettes. It is so stylised and hyper-realistic all the same.

Then there’s the aspect of the sublime and nature. The power of the weather is significant to the story, as demonstrated by its name. The influences that it can have on the world are shown beautifully whilst still providing a sense of fear, awe and vulnerability for the viewer. The beauty of the animation is something which draws me into all of the works I have seen by Shinkai. The style and quality of the animation is fantastic.

Another thing I loved was the music. Like its predecessor, ‘Your Name’, the music was provided by RADWIMPS – who, yet again, did a spectacular job. My personal favourite of their discography was easily ‘Grand Escape’, which featured vocals from Toko Miura. The songs are very apt and used in the story to reflect a change in the mood, or the passage of time. The pacing of each song, the tune, tempo and the usage of the composition are always well used during the film to demonstrate these shifts. However, a qualm I did have with some of the transitions was that they could be jarring. This may have been an issue that arose solely due to my watching the dub as opposed to the Japanese version with English Subtitles, but the sudden burst of song lyrics in Japanese did not take away from the overall experience.

Then there’s the story in itself – which provided a broad insight and perspective into socio-political issues, particularly climate change. However, it is also, at its core, a love story, which looked at a concept not widely known, or at least, my friends and I seemed rather unfamiliar with it. The concept of rain and sunshine provided plenty of room for pathetic fallacy and symbolism, I really enjoyed the concept, imagery and execution. It was very interesting and easy to watch.

I do not intend to talk much about the Easter Eggs that I noticed whilst watching this particular film. Instead, I hope to discuss them further in a follow-up post, should I get the opportunity to see the film again in the cinema, or once it is released on DVD. However, I will say this: in short, fans of other works by Shinkai won’t be disappointed in what you find.

Until then, I would like to say that I wholeheartedly enjoyed watching ‘Weathering With You’ and I would recommend seeing it, if you haven’t already!

Six: The Musical

Six The Musical is a pop musical that tells the story of Henry VIII’s six wives: Catherine of Aragon, Ann Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr. It provides a modernised and easy to access platform for history.

The musical itself is the equivalent of one act in length and runs without an intermission in an easy to follow manner. All of the songs are catchy and have a lot of character to them – that way the audience can access the story and build upon their pre-existing knowledge. Each song in the show provides context about the wives and the breakdown of their relationships with Henry VIII.

The staging is effective – with a small stage that the six actresses filled and elevated spaces for the musicians that perform alongside the cast. The lack of a background set means the eyes of the audience are caught and captured by the performance and can’t stray form the cast.

My personal favourite aspect of Six is the costuming department and how they incorporate aspects of the historical dress in the Queen’s costumes, while each are still presented as modern. They each wear high heeled shoes and wear corresponding outfits that make them resemble a girl-band. There are nods to their original portraits from the Tudor times in their costumes – from Ann Boleyn’s top and skirt combo being a glittery green tartan, a nod to her green sleeves, to the addition of glittery skeleton frames of puffed up sleeves, corsets and petticoats. These Queens would not go amiss in the sales industry.

I loved getting to see Six, I found the entire experience really empowering, the stress of needing a man’s love to be amazing and the emphasis that Henry VIII is only remembered because he had six wives, so they seemed to elevate him more than he did them. The show ends on a high note, declaring how important unity, solidarity, and supporting one another. It really is an immersive, electric, almost concert-like experience. I look forward to seeing the show on tour.

Six The Musical is playing at The Arts Theatre and tickets are available to purchase until January 2021.

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