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Review: Assassins, at Pleasance Theatre

Must-see revival of Stephen Sondheim musical takes aim at US presidents

29 March, 2018 — By Paul Cowling

Andrew Pepper in Assassins. Photo: Sarah Evans

SEVAN Productions’ revival of this Stephen Sondheim musical is a thousand-rounds-a-minute salvo that starts with a bang and ends with a standing ovation.

This A to Zee backdrop is a “Shoot the Prez” fairground-style shooting gallery.

Peter Watts is commanding as the proprietor, handing out guns like candy to gathered misfits.

“Everyone’s Got the Right,” everyone sings, but for what?

To live a good life, or to end someone else’s?

These vulnerable strays, abandoned by the American dream are wide-eyed when faced with an instrument of death in their hands. It’s a who’s who of POTUS gun poppers from Alexander McMorran’s excellent John Wilkes-Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald (Jason Kadji). Oswald, is encouraged by Abe Lincoln slayer, Wilkes-Booth, to shoot JFK.

Abigail Williams is a hoot as Sarah Jane Moore, the jittery firecracker, who “fluffed her lines” when faced with firing at Gerald Ford.

Mention too of Alfie Parker, who takes slob to a new level as a comical, Santa-suited Samuel Byck. It was Byck who hijacked a plane with the plan to fly into the White House and wipe out Nixon. In doing so, Byck killed a police officer. But, is it right to mock killing the leader of the Free World? And so too, a dead cop? Is it okay to parody the ease of gun access in this Trump monster climate?

Despite this, (and a few microphone issues) Assassins is slick and a must see.

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