This Jerry Herman musical only lasted 61 performances when it opened on Broadway in 1979, but Sutherland’s well-judged small stage take on this moving story gives it a comeback.
It’s blessed with an immensely likeable central performance from Alastair Brookshaw who plays the persuasive, ever resilient Jacobowsky, a Polish Jew fleeing the Nazis in 1940’s France. Necessity makes for strange bedfellows – he’s managed to find a car, but can’t drive, and so he teams up with the snobbish, anti-semitic Polish Colonel Stjerbinsky (Nic Kyle), who needs to get vital papers out of the country and across the channel.
In the course of their dangerous journey, Jacobowsky walks a circus high-wire, conducts a wedding ceremony and falls hopelessly in love with Marianne, the Colonel’s French girlfriend who’s reluctant to leave her homeland.
Herman’s music and lyrics may not be in the same league as those of his mega-hits La Cage Aux Folles and Hello, Dolly!, but with just a two-piece band, a busy cast of eleven and a clever fold-out set, this touching tale of one symbolic man’s fight for survival, and of irrepressible optimism in the face of adversity, is well worth a visit.
Finborough, Finborough Road, SW10 9ED
Tube: Earl’s Court
Until 21st February
£16 – £22