“Treason The Musical”, follows the story of the 1605 gunpowder plot from the perspective of the conspirators: Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, Tom Winter and John Wright. Beautifully filmed at the dramatic Cadogan Hall, this concert presentation showcases the bones of the show, with key songs and moments linked together by rhyming narrative.
With music and lyrics by Rickie Allan and book by Allan and Keiran Lynn, this presentation runs under an hour but packs in a real taste of the show. The creative team, including director Hannah Chissick have a clear vision; the show is clean, consistent in style and the story is confidently portrayed.
The musical opens in 1603, where a dying Queen Elizabeth I is under pressure to name an heir with no children of her own. Life under Protestant rule has not been kind to England’s Catholic population and with talk of Elizabeth’s Nephew, Scotland’s King James, taking over the throne, there is hope that Catholics may be free under his rule. Seeking James’ confirmation of this, Thomas Percy rides for Scotland to meet with the King, whom he finds to be very accommodating and brimming with promises; of course, once James I ascends to the throne, all promises are forgotten…
The cast are excellent and the singing is absolutely exceptional with standouts being West End favourites Lucie Jones as Martha Percy, Oliver Tompsett as Robert Catesby and Bradley Jaden as Thomas Percy. There’s also an energetic cameo from Daniel Boys who wows with his range.
The narrations which link the story together are at times jarring and clumsy, but as this is a work in progress we are willing to forgive that. It is a little hard to see what will make the final production and what is merely placeholder which sways me to look on this show kindly as it really is a musical triumph. The score is magnificent, aided of course by the quality of the vocalists, but it has so many soaring and catchy numbers we could barely catch our breath in between.
My one real criticism is that it really does feel a little beyond the point of “inspired by” Hamilton and more like a direct copy. The campy king song, the rhymes and pacing, the political backdrops and hot headed young men… It all feels very familiar. The story, although surviving hundreds of years, has not yet been explored to a place where it feels alive. The inevitable ending sets the tone from the start and it never truly soars… we never really care about any of the characters, leaving a lot of the big ballads although stunning, feeling a little empty and undeserved.
This, as I mentioned, is a work in progress and there is absolutely no doubt the work has promise. I’m excited to see what happens in the creative room before its next outing; here’s hoping its fireworks.
Treason The Musical is available until the 14th March 2021, visit https://treasonthemusical.com/ for further information and future performances.
Reviewer: Rita Bryce
Reviewed: 13th March 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★