The original production had a troubled genesis, and although director John Savournin’s production tries ever so hard in this small space, it only sporadically engages as thirty-something New York secretary Leona arrives in Venice – hoping to find the perfect amour – young, rich, good-looking, and single – during her rather lonely two week stay at the Pension Fioria.
A very basic set (tables, chairs, some steps and a painted backdrop), and an onstage pianist and percussionist to provide the musical accompaniment add little to the atmosphere, and Sondheim’s lyrics (witty enough when you can hear them) are all too often muffled when the actors turn their backs.
The subsidiary characters are sketchily drawn – an overweight American tourist and his spouse with their packed-full itinerary, a younger, more attractive couple whose marriage is in crisis. At least the love interest, Renato, is a little more complicated (and almost operatic) – a local shopkeeper who ticks none of Leona’s preconceived boxes, but attracts her all the same, and suggests an alternative morality. And Rosie Strobel brings an earthy pragmatism to the role of Signora Fioria.
The comic No Understand language lesson, the heartfelt, sweetly melodic Moon in My Window and the optimistic title number are among the highlights, but sadly this is no rediscovered masterpiece.
When: Until March 30
Where: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP
Tickets cost £19.50. For more information and to book, click here.