2 Mar

LIZZIE at Greenwich Theatre

Concept and Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Tim Maner

Book by Tim Maner

Music by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Alan Stevens Hewit

There was a song back in the day that went ‘Oh you can’t chop your poppa up in Massachusetts’ A song that was of course a reference to Lizzie Borden the life of whom also prompted the nursery rhyme and this rock opera.

This is a tremendous production with just four powerful female singers and a six-piece rock band. The story sheds another light on the old melodrama. Giving a feminist slant on the true-life story of an evil man slaughtered by Lizzie the daughter he bullied and used as a sex slave.

Everything in this production is big. Big sets, dramatically lit with varying colours often illustrating the bloody nature of the story,

Andrew Borden was a billionaire – the richest man in town, but the family was kept in penury. After the death of his wife he married again, a woman loathed by her two stepdaughters who believed that she was marrying Andrew for the money she would inherit after his death. The elder sister Emma is the first one to say ‘She must die before Father’ so the daughters would not be left penniless.

Emma is played by Eden Espinosa, Lizzie by Danish actress/singer, Bjorg Gamst. The cast is made up of the maid Bridget (who they call Maggie) and Alice Russell, the neighbour who loves Lizzie and these were both witnesses at the trial.

These are four passionate and powerful young women who have been kept down by the patriarchal laws of the land. It seems as if the final straw for Lizzie was when Andrew, in a fit of jealous rage disposed of  her pet pigeons, after she sings of her love for them, ‘The soul of the white bird,’ by chopping off their heads and sending them to his daughter in a blanket

In Act one set in a steamy heat of august 1892 they wear Victorian Dress, The conservative clothing a symbol of their imprisonment in the rage, fear and frustration caused by their female station in life. But in Act two after the murder, they celebrate their freedom dressed like Burlesque queens in suspenders and corsets. .

There is tenderness and true love between the women as well as their collaboration in hate for the father. Alice loves Lizzie and sings the love song ‘I dream of you’. Unlike the song Lizzie sings about her relationship with Andrew ‘This isn’t love’ which is very moving and is followed up with another area ‘I gotta get out of here’

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks.When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty one.

Directed by Victoria Bussert, Choreography by Greg Daniela and Martin Bergmann Konge is musical director.

A brilliant work set in United States but performed with true Scandinavian sensibilities. A great combination.

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