Thursday, September 28

Titanic the Musical – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

We all know the story of the Titanic, a tragedy on the seas brought about through malpractice, ego over practicality and safety. The name of the show alone is sure to bring in the masses, generations of people interested in the ships’ story and downfall. A whole audience entering the theatre with the expectation to cry, an expectation that I’m afraid fell short.

The music of this show is without a doubt beautiful with an incredibly talented cast of vocalists and performers, each song alone could work well if not for the over use of ‘I want’ ballads in succession of each other throughout act one. It is clear the production set out with the plan of showing the multiple classes on the ship, trying to give its audience a multitude of people to build a connection with before some of their untimely demises but unfortunately this just served to give us too many characters with not enough stage time to build any connection with and a very slow musical accompaniment.  There’s very little rise and fall musically within the whole show, not even when the ship is about to sink.

We are given a good amount of information throughout act one regarding why the ship inevitably sunk, the rise in speed and ignoring of the iceberg warnings are not lost in amongst the various love stories. We are also made clearly aware of the class divides and treatment as well as the reason that many 3rd class passengers had been on the ship, a topic which could have been explored further to really bring in their unfair reality. More 3rd classed passengers died on the Titanic than any of the other classes, along with staff, a topic that is seen during the stage production but should have been explored further rather than focusing so much on the 2nd class passengers.

Photo: Pamela Raith Photography

I will admit I had gone into the show expecting some impressive and heart wrenching visuals, another area of production that did not live up to expectation. The Titanic was supposed to be a site to behold, one of immense luxury, instead we are served a simple boat deck with no character and a couple of desks and chairs that are brought onstage for the odd scene. I understand a simplistic set but a projection or two of the famous titanic staircase or the ship wouldn’t go amiss. Even when the ship starts to sink we are given the same back drop with a few ropes and a lacklustre platform raise.

It’s not a spoiler for me to say the ship sinks, in fact the sinking is what we all go in expecting, but this was another area that fell short. I respect that the production doesn’t over dramatize the event, especially as it was indeed a horrific and real tragedy but the staging of the whole thing seemed under done, there was little panic and zero chaos. There was no band playing, no fighting, shouting, crying or screaming, no one seemed to be reacting to the event. Even when the survivors stand in front of a list of the dead, the powerful moment seems mellowed out.

Overall, one cannot fault the performers, the vocals really are impressive and everything wrong with the production falls onto the production team rather than the cast. To take such a massive tragedy in modern history and transform it into a show you really need to create something special, do the victims justice, something in which I feel Titanic the Musical fails to do. There are some good ideas in there and I can see what they were going for, but they just missed the mark. That being said if you are there for the music and singing, you won’t leave disappointed. 

Playing until 24th June,

Reviewer: Beth Eltringham

Reviewed: 20th June 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.