This musical adaptation of Erich Kästner’s novel ‘Lottie and Lisa’- more commonly known as ‘The Parent Trap’- will have you seeing double in a tale of two ever so similarly different sisters.
When Lottie (Kyla Fox) and Lisa (Nicole Fox) meet at summer camp, they go from being enemies to best friends after discovering they’re long-lost twins separated at birth. Both are curious to meet the parent who didn’t raise them, and so they decide to swap lives.
The story stays loyal to the original novel’s plot, but this omits a lot of humour from the Disney film adaptations that made ‘The Parent Trap’ such a hit. Tonally, ‘Identical’ is serious and schmaltzy, with family-friendly comedy scattered throughout.
While some of Anthony Drewe’s lyrics are inventive, the score by composer George Stiles verges on generic. None of the songs stand out, and the titular number falls short of being a showstopper. ‘Making It Up As We Go Along’ is bouncy and the closest thing to a memorable track, though it is one of several “fillers” that contribute to the somewhat excessive 2hr 50m runtime.
As the twins’ mother, Emily Tierney gives a performance like no other, gifting her sweet, mesmerising voice and sincere acting ability to Lisalotte. Both Kyla and Nicole Fox throw verve as well as sass in equal measure into their portrayals of Lottie and Lisa.
Despite their dislike for potential stepmother Miss Gerlach, Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson makes this supposedly wicked antagonist one of the most compassionate characters. Her dancing in ‘The Hansel and Gretel Ballet’ is on point in every sense of the phrase.
Set Designer Robert Jones has done magnificent work, utilising huge background screens for smooth, cinematic-like transitions. Minimal yet impactful staging gives each scene a professional and immersive feel to them.
A play-it-safe approach to choreography prevents any of the routines from taking off, but a range of outfits provides plenty of colour and personality to the stage.
Mums, dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters- identical or otherwise- will all be left with a twin-kle in their eye.
‘Identical’ continues at The Lowry, Salford until 3rd September with tickets available from https://thelowry.com/whats-on/identical/
Reviewer: Scot Cunningham
Reviewed: 23rd August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★