Tuesday, July 16

Your Lie In April – Harold Pinter Theatre

A musical about musicians and for everyone, the play is based on the manga by Naoshi Arakawa and operates with a clear respect for the conventions of its source material and culture of origin. With a new English book by Rinne B. Groff, music by Frank Wildhorn, and lyrics by Carly Robin Green and Tracy Miller, the story is told concisely and movingly. Jason Howland’s music arrangement and orchestration is tremendous, and the work is as much a pleasure to listen to as any musical that so highly prizes musicianship.

Directed and choreographed by Nick Winston, this production has a surreal gracefulness to it as transitions between scenes and musical numbers coalesce seamlessly and lend a magical quality to every encounter between character and audience.

The venue is pushed to its full physical and technical capacity with actors popping up in audience boxes and projections swirling through the stalls, balconies, and ceiling of the majestic theatre. This is not the type of musical that gets you up out of your seat but rather the kind that sweeps you off your feet.

Sincere in the extreme and not shy of its inherent theatricality and melodrama this play aims right for the heart and in its unassuming excellence is likely to penetrate the armour of even the most cynical theatregoer. Sonically rich and visually stimulating, this musical is both extravagant and tasteful. Justin Williams’ beautiful set design in cotton candy pinks and blues conveys a saccharine undertone that is contrasted by its performers’ earnestness and results in a dizzyingly sweet experience. A grounded performance by Zheng Xi Yong as erstwhile concert pianist and current high school sweetheart Kōsei Arima particularly stuns amidst the cartoon fairy tale world constructed by Williams and the show’s costume designer Kimie Nakano. In beautiful harmony with both the set and the performers inhabiting them, her costumes evoke the subtle illustrative gestures of manga terrifically and enhance the stage poise of each young actor.

Still yet to graduate from The Arts Educational School, Mia Kobayashi is particularly well outfitted and under stage lighting seems to genuinely glow with the pleasure of performance. Her acting and singing as Kaori Miyazono, Kōsei’s crush and musical partner, is jaw dropping and justifies the price of admission on its own merits but is only enhanced by the terrific support of the extremely competent core cast. Rachel Clare Chan plays best friend Tsubaki Sawabe with a fierceness that makes her impossible not to root for and Dean John Wilson brings resident himbo Ryota Watari to life with a cartoonish charisma that is undeniably attractive. Under their guidance, Your Lie in April, truly comes alive and you’ll be lucky to catch it while you can.

Playing until 21st September, https://www.haroldpintertheatre.co.uk/shows/your-lie-in-april

Reviewer: Kira Daniels

Reviewed: 5th July 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.