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If you could do with a blast of insanity and drama, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is an emotional musical worth a watch.

There’s no wonder the women in Jeffrey Lane’s stage adaptation of Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 movie are in a panic – the pace of this mix of musical and farce never slows. There’s just so much going on in Bartlett Sher’s production (successfully revamped since it flopped on Broadway in 2010) that there’s rarely time to feel much sympathy for these victims of men behaving badly.

Out of the blue, voiceover and commercial actress Pepa’s long-term lover and colleague, Ivan, has gone - leaving her, he says, whilst he still loves her and before the whole thing goes sour. Needless to say, she’s pretty miserable. Things get even worse when she’s stalked by the mentally unhinged wife he deserted decades ago  (played excellently by Haydn Gwynne in seriously dated outfits and giving full vent to the regrets of twenty wasted, incarcerated years and the invisibility that comes with middle age). Then her suicidal best friend turns up (whose new lay - the latest in a string of disastrous liaisons - turns out to be a terrorist), followed by Ivan’s son along with his fiancée. Pepa’s Madrid flat is getting very crowded – but a jug of Valium-spiked gazpacho quickly calms things down - if only temporarily.

It’s a crazy concoction, which is enjoyable if often lacking in logic. David Yazbek’s music has a suitably Spanish feel to it and Tamsin Greig, making her musical debut as Pepa, adds an expressive singing voice to her already proven comic credentials and ability to switch emotions in a moment.  

Playhouse, Northumberland Avenue, WC2N 5DE

Tube: Embankment / Charing Cross

Until 9th May

Tickets £24.50-£59.50 + premium seats


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Theatre review: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Digital Mag

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