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Visiting the Dorfman Theatre

stiletto wheels 2

A week or two back, I went along to a preview of Here Lies Love, the opening production at the newly refurbished Dorfman Theatre, formerly The Cottesloe, part of The National Theatre complex.

Okay, starting with the bad, I’ve got to be honest and say that I hated the play.

And yet, it all sounded so promising in the NT’s blurb:

Fresh from taking New York by storm, this revolutionary musical experience by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim arrives at the National Theatre for a strictly limited run.

‘A life-giving, roof-raising, booty-shaking blast of pure joy.’

Here Lies Love traces the astonishing journey of Imelda Marcos, First Lady of the Philippines, from her meteoric rise to power to descent into infamy and disgrace.

The new Dorfman Theatre is transformed into a pulsating club for this immersive theatrical event; Alex Timbers’ production combines heart-pounding beats with adrenaline-fuelled choreography and a remarkable 360-degree staging.

Dress comfortably, and come ready to dance!

Only as I sat in the performance space, listening to a monotonous bass beat, did I remember how much I loathe rock-pop musicals, especially when they are trying so hard to be hip.  Memorably – to my friends – I walked out of Les Miserables in its’ opening run because I thought it absolutely dreadful.  Twenty years, a successful film and both critical and popular rave notices prove how out of the mainstream I am on this.

The Dorfman will be pleased to note that I am still out of the popular groove as Here Lies Love opened to four and five star reviews despite my loathing of it.

The updated venue was more of a success for me, principally, because the main entrance has been revamped in a much more wheelchair friendly fashion with wider and less precipitous inclines – love that.  The foyer space is better organised and much easier to navigate.  The wheelchair space for the performance seemed pretty much as before on this occasion so, okay but not fantastic as, unable to lean forward, my sight line was somewhat restricted – this didn’t detract from the play experience for this production as the action moved around.

I’m guessing a lot of the renovations were for backstage gubbins, digital and media installations and stuff to allow more flexibility in production.  No doubt future visits will reveal more exciting details …

If you do like musical stage performances, believe the critics and go, if not, I recommend giving this production a miss.  However you decide, in a wheelchair, The Dorfman is good for you to go.  Yay, accessible venue alert.

(PS the shoe image is reference to Imelda Marcos’ love of …)


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