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“You will feel homicidal if you miss this little gem!” by Steven Smith

Rating: xxxxx (Axe wielding 5 stars!)

Having just sat through one of the worst musicals in my living memory a few nights before (The time travellers’ wife), the prospect of a rock musical based on a true crime did not exactly fill me with excitement, especially one about the notorious Lizzie Borden who allegedly killed her father and stepmother with an axe. 

Only the fact that a friend had seen the opening at, what is fast becoming the out of town must go to venue, “Hope Mill theatre” in Manchester, raised my interest. (Has this team ever put anything bad on?).

“Lizzie” is now playing at the delightful Southwark Playhouse Elephant . Just to fill you in and I won’t ruin the whole story, but the musical looks at the reasons why she allegedly murdered her father and step mother.

And at Lizzie’s defence with the help of an expensive legal team and the support of her sister Emma, maid Bridget, and friend and lover Alice.

“Lizzie” at Southwark Playhouse Elephant in London

Set in 1892 Fall River Massachusetts, the dark atmospheric set complete with an axe puts you in the mood for a something creepy quite early on.

However, nothing can prepare you for the thrill ride that the show is about take you on: the cast of “Lizzie” are about to blow your socks off. 

This might be an old story, but the cast bring something unique and exciting to the stage. Five minutes into the performance my mouth dropped open and I had to hold myself down as I wanted to dance along with the cast. 

Directed by William Whelton and written by Steven Cheslik-de Meyer, Tim Maner, and Alan Stevens Hewitt my hat goes off to them 

Lizzie looks at some pretty dark topics such as abuse, interwoven with truly touching moments. The love story between Lizzie and Alice is beautifully handled.

What really makes this a ‘must see’ is the cast, and there are only 4 actors plus a tremendous orchestra. Trust me “four” sure out-does “six”

With the cast raising the roof, you are forgiven for imagining you’re at the Globe theatre, watching some incredible classic acting that has been hijacked by an awesome rock concert! This is what makes the show so unique. They even manage to bring a comic element in the shape of Mairi Barclays, who plays Bridget the maid, without ever going over the top.

Lizzie is played by Lauren Drew (The Voice!), who is so tremendous in the role she deserves every award going, as do the whole cast to be honest.

Shekinah McFarlane plays Emma, her older sister who tries to be a guiding light to Lizzie. Shekinah is a powerhouse of talent you just can’t believe you’re lucky enough to watch. Her solo, “What the F**k Now, Lizzie?”, is one the highlights of the show.

Maiya Quansah-Breed is Alice, Lizzie’s lover. Again, she leaves you spellbound; the handling of the love between them felt so real it was touching. All the fab four should be at a theatre ten times the size.

But lucky for me and you, they are not for now. 

There is not one thing I can think of that is not positive, except when it got to the interval I felt like a petulant child, “NO KEEP GOING!”. Even the clever costume designs deserve a shout out. 

For sure I will be going back to see “Lizzie” again and you should go too!

CLICK HERE for more information on their upcoming shows in London.

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Steven Smith

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