16 Oct

At Ye Old Rose and Crown Theatre, Walthamstow
Music by Joe Brooks
Book and lyrics by Joe Brooks and Dusty Hughes
Additional material by David Firman.
The review must begin with mentioning the incredible vocal power of the cast in this show and the orchestral and vocal arrangements by Aaron Clingham.
Metropolis is based on the 1927 Fritz Lang Science Fiction Movie set in 2029. It is a strange choice for this venue. Their shows are often dependent on the happy feeling we associate with musical theatre.
It has no happiness in it. A love story that is impossible for various reasons. A megalomaniac boss and all the poor workers who work day in day out under the ground working the machinery that powers the dystopian city of Metropolis. If they stop the city will be destroyed.
John Freeman the boss resents his dependency on the workers and is trying to get his mad scientist friend Dr.Warner to invent an army of robots that will dispose of the workers and take their place.
In addition to the Workers there are the elitist people who live in high rise apartments. They are not allowed. in the underground so have no idea what is going on beneath their feet. They sing and dance and generally behave like upper class idiots. Except for one man, Steven, the son of John Freeman. Steven happens to meet Maria one of the workers who is showing the children of the workers the wonders of the town. He falls in love with her and is determined to follow her down to the factory.
This is a depressing story and it doesn’t let up nor does the music which is mostly confined to heavy power ballads. However the singing is so stunning and the orchestral and vocal arrangements are well equal to and actually even beyond the usual high standard of shows at the A and Cat It is the music and the singing which saves this show from being thoroughly depressing.
The depression is the fault of the actual script, not the creatives or cast who are all professional and efficient.
Miiya Alexandra plays a lovely Maria and Steven is Rob Herron , John Freeman by Gareth James, Dr Warner the scientist who is responsible for providing the robot is played by Kitty Whitelaw, and John Freeman’s sidekick Jeremiah is played by Alex Ely. Michael Levi is a worker who escapes for a short time but finds he prefers the company downstairs.
Metropolis is not a barrel of laughs. But it is sty lish and beautifully directed by Tim McArthur and choreographed by Ian Pyle.
The film was the cause of much controversy and was banned for a while as Communist propaganda. It is a warning that if the people in charge don’t get themselves together and destroy the class system it may be proved true.

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