Theatre Reviews

Hamilton: Brilliant songs, perfect production but slightly confusing story

I have been excited to see the West End version of the hit Broadway show, Hamilton, ever since I bought the tickets last year, but although I loved every part of it, I found myself asking more questions.

Director: Thomas Kail

Writer: Lin Manuel Miranda

Producer: Cameron Mackintosh

Starring: Jamael Westman, Rochelle Ann Go, Giles Terera, Rachel John, Obioma Ugoala, Jason Pennycooke, Tarinn Callender, Cleve September, Christine Allado, Michael Jibson, Waylon Jacobs

Running Time: 2hrs 45mins

Theatre: Victoria Palace, London

The show in itself was truly amazing and the performances were outstandingly brilliant and was a different show to anything I had seen before – music wise – but whether I missed something in one of the songs, there were times were I was left wondering what was going on.

Hamilton tells the story of one of America’s founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and his life throughout the American Revolution and working with close friend George Washington.

Although the show – which is one of the most Tony nominated productions ever – was perfectly executed I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on.

I was concerned when the Broadway show came across the Atlantic to London that it wouldn’t have the best reaction as, for me in particular, didn’t get taught much about America and it’s history.

And that’s how it felt watching it. OK I knew some of the more famous names – George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – but the first half of the show seemed a blur.

This isn’t to say I loved it. Not at all! I found myself singing and humming along to the amazing songs – including Satisfied, Helpless and Hamilton.

However, because the show is renowned for using rap there were sometimes were I couldn’t understand what the performers were saying.

This isn’t by any means a negative critique on the actors. They were all brilliant.

Jamael Westman who played the titular role was outstanding and was met with a roar if applause when he first came on the stage.

Whether or not the theatre was full if Americans I do not know or whether the hype surrounding the show was more than I thought – although I was extremely excited myself to see it.

The role of Angelica Schuyler – played by Rachel John – was truly outstanding. She had one of the best voices I have heard on the stage and every time she entered the scene I knew it was going to be good.

As I mentioned earlier, if I had some more knowledge of American history maybe I would have understood it a bit more but I found that this was the intention by creator Lin Manuel Miranda.

At the end of the show they ask the question “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” and it does bring into account that Hamilton was the lesser known of the founding fathers which makes a bit more sense.

The production itself had a simple set design with a rotating stage – a characteristic it seems in most Mackintosh shows – and creatively brought in props using a dedicated dance troupe – who were fantastic!

As the show tells the story of Hamilton’s life, there were times were the actors – most notably Burr who was somewhat the narrator of the show – was talking directly to the audience.

Unlike some other shows who use monologues and songs to help the show move forward, Hamilton did break the fourth wall which I enjoyed.

Although I had listened to some of the songs before seeing the show, I was pleased to hear some that I never heard but thoroughly enjoyed.

The show itself, albeit slightly confusing, was much better in the second half. It felt more like a story than of Hamilton’s life.

What also left me shocked was what his real life wife, Eliza Schuyler, did after his death and, in a time where women are fighting to be heard, it felt relevant to modern day.

I did thoroughly enjoy the production and the songs and performances were outstanding and is a must-see – but maybe read up on who Hamilton was before seeing the show to help any confusion.

But it’s no surprise the show was met with a standing ovation.

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