By Michael Billington for The Guardian
What strikes one most about this Harlem musical by Langston Hughes and David Martin is its guileless innocence. Although set in 1957, when Governor Faubus of Arkansas sent in state troops to deny black children admission to Little Rock High School, the only reference to national events comes in a newspaper headline. For the most part, the inhabitants of Paddy's Bar are content to sing their troubles away.
You could excuse Hughes's detachment from current events in that he based the show on a 1953 collection of stories about his popular black hero, Jesse B Semple, a comic Everyman who suffers the daily frustrations of his race. But the emphasis, in a show clearly designed for Broadway, is less on Jesse's sudden sacking from an industrial plant than on his emotional problems. Yearning for a divorce from his estranged wife, he longs to marry the good-hearted, church-going Joyce. The problem is that he is constantly drawn to Harlem's Paddy's Bar where he is ceaselessly vamped by the fun-loving Zarita. click for more
****************************************** Simply irresistible
Charles Spencer in Th Daily Telegraph reviews Simply Heaven at the Young Vic.
Occasionally you run into people who announce, rather smugly, that they don't like musicals. For them, tune-and-toe shows represent everything that is vulgar, sentimental and brashly profit-driven in theatre. There's not much you can do for such deluded saps, but I've always thought that saying you don't like musicals is a bit like saying that you don't like sunshine, or love, or laughter. Indeed, my addiction to the genre is now so chronic that I even take a perverse pleasure in the flops as well as hits.
Make no mistake, though - Simply Heavenly is a terrific show, flawed certainly and a bit verbose but receiving a production at the Young Vic that sends you out into the night floating euphorically on cloud nine. click for more
<small>[ 29 March 2003, 04:28 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>