From a young age people in the UK know the 5th of November is Fireworks Night. ‘Remember, remember the 5th of November…’ we all know the rhyme for Guy Fawkes night. We may be hazy on the details, but we know it’s something to do with some guy plotting to blow up parliament.
Which is essentially what ‘Treason: The Musical’ is the story of: it is the gun powder plot of 1605; the failed assassination attempt to blow up King James I during the opening of parliament.
The story could’ve been heavy – it deals with religion, ideological conflict, tolerance, revolutionary thought and protest, but it’s not. It’s an uplifting musical celebration of protest and revolution. It’s about not standing by while the authorities overreach their power, it’s about speaking up and taking action to make what’s wrong, right. ‘Take things into your own hands’ is the motto on the merch.
In short: Treason is a revolutionary musical for our times.
It may sound crass to say, but this really is a music led musical. Ricky Allan’s music and lyrics with book by Charli Eglinton are the bedrock to this production, and the story deftly weaves its way around the key sagas with big songs punctuating the way. The songs, although unknown to me, feel like so many could be chart toppers already. There is something Disney-esque with a dose of London grit about them, that will have you tapping along and cheering for more. ‘Crossfire’ was a particularly stand out success, while ‘Better man’ was a catchy tune which we returned to throughout the play.
The setting of Alexandra Palace is spell binding. The stage and scenery are so atmospheric, it is as though you are actually there. The lighting – not something I’ve commented on before in a review – is incredible. Jason Taylor has gone to great lengths to work a magic which is rarely seen on stage. And when it comes to the stage – the scenery and costumes are on another level. The amount of money and attention to detail that’s gone into this production is mind-boggling. I’ve never seen such a creative stage changeover before – the choreography is so deft; it is the most fluid you’ll likely ever see.
‘Treason’ is a big production. It may not be at the West End, but the setting for this at Alexandra Palace is perfect. It saddens me to realise if it is to achieve the acclaim it deserves, it will likely need to move to a more central London location.
For decades Andrew Lloyd Webber has held his musicals crown tightly to his head, but Ricky Allan and Charli Eglinton have shown they’ve got what it takes to challenge his crown. Treason is a bang-on-trend musical ripe for our modern era. Unafraid to pick apart the past, they are showing us what we need for the future.
Treason runs until 22nd November, https://treasonthemusical.com/
Reviewer: Samantha Collett
Reviewed: 9th November 2023
North West End UK Rating: