By Jonathan Larson
The Lowry, 1 May 2012
This is a lively, fiery production of Jonathan Larson’s astonishingly successful musical.
The original show ran for over twelve years on Broadway, from 1996 to 2008, clocking up some 5,123 performances altogether, but to echo the song ‘Seasons of Love’: how do you measure success? Another song in the show – ‘La Vie Boheme’ – alludes to Larson’s original inspiration: Rent is a loose take on Puccini’s opera, which has been relocated to ‘90s New York and given a happy ending.
Out of many fine performances, Simon Murray’s vivacious Angel stood out. It’s a wonderful role because (s)he is in many respects the oaken heart of the show. Laura Bryant made for a sexy, sensual Mimi while Adam Whittle as Roger, a punk rocker, gave a marvellous performance of ‘One Song Glory’, which to my mind is the best song in the show. It served also as a poignant reminder that Jonathan Larson (1960-1996) never actually lived to see Rent open, nor tasted its glorious success.
As a celebration of living in the moment and to the max (the take-home message is something like: you don’t own life, it is rented out to you, so make the most of it) and an embrace of otherness (Larson’s bohemians, all citizens of cosmopolis, are marginalised in various ways, not least by being HIV-positive) Rent really cannot be beat. It’s a terrific achievement.
This amateur production, easily of professional calibre, is at The Lowry until 5 May, further details are here.