RAGTIME takes us back in history and across the Atlantic to New York state at the turn of the 20th century where this bustling 1998 musical adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s 1975 historical novel mixes the fictional tale of a black Harlem pianist (turned enraged activist when tragedy and injustice strike), a kindly, well-off white mother and an impoverished Jewish immigrant widow with snapshot appearances of Houdini, Henry Ford and other real-life characters.
There’s perhaps a bit too much going on, but (on a cleverly adaptable set) director Thom Southerland once again demonstrates his talent for orchestrating a large cast (which includes several actor musicians) – plus thirty odd musical numbers – into as coherent a whole as possible. And the syncopated ragtime rhythms running through the evening help pull the various strands together in this award-winning musical which casts a critical eye over the consequences of racial discrimination and prejudice, prevalent then and still in evidence today.
Charing Cross Theatre The Arches, Villiers Street, WC2N 6NL
Until 10th December 2016
£17.50 – £32.50 (+ premium seats £39.50)