With love, it’s a case of either following your head or your heart, how we navigate this beautiful, multi-faceted quality of life unique to us all. Having debuted in 1943 on Broadway, and marking Rogers and Hammerstein’s first musical partnership, Oklahoma! follows lead Laurey Williams’ pursuit to find the one, as she finds herself consumed with the prospect of either settling with cowboy Curly McClain or farmhand Jud Fry, the production showcasing the fallouts and heartbreaks of decisions made, highlighting love’s often chaotic grace.
Torn between two diametrically opposed personalities, Laurey’s love dilemma runs in parallel to Ado Annie Carnes own affairs of the heart, her colourful love triangle consisting of Will Parker, who genuinely longs for Ado whereas Ali Hakim pursues Ado on a more superficial level, the production etching out the various ways in which people process love and how relationships play out, Oklahoma! concerned with its local community and the lively goings on that take place. Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’, the musical’s most iconic show tune, acting as the cast’s beating heart and indicator of mood throughout as a continual motif, for fans of the well loved musical, all of the show’s track list casually guiding the evening along, I Cain’t Say No, sung with gusto and passion by Marisha Wallace‘s Ado Annie, a stand out of the evening.
Daniel Fish and Jordan Fein direct a brooding, contemporised take on the 1940s classic, intense close ups of the cast’s faces projected in real time on the wall to either stage right or left, dependent on where you’re sat – making for gripping sequences and attempting to delve deeper into mental state. Laura Jellinek and Grace Laubacher‘s wooden adorned, spacious, community hall – homely, placing us at the centre of the action. Located at the auditorium’s heart, we’re sat around the stage, as if fellow community dwellers a part of the action – there’s a familiarity to the setting as I’m sure many of us at some point have attended an event or celebration within this type of environment. Arthur Darvill‘s cool Curly McClain, Patrick Vaill‘s intense Jud Fry, Anoushka Lucas‘ strong-willed Laurey Williams’, Wallace’s bubbly Ado Annie Carnes, James Davis‘ quirky Will Parker, Stavros Demetraki‘s overly confident Ali Hakim, Liza Sadovy‘s omniscient Aunt Eller, Greg Hicks‘ comical Andrew Carnes – Ado Annie’s father, all banding together to present a celebration of the country and western genre, the evening settling in its steady, mellow nature.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Oklahoma! is currently showing until Saturday 25th June 2022 at the Young Vic. To find out more about the production, visit here…
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