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London Palladium moving to the Lyric Theatre

Death Note The Musical in Concert
4.0Overall Score

The highly anticipated European premiere of the beloved manga ‘Death Note’ has finally arrived. The story follows high school student Light, Joaquin Pedro Valdes, who finds a notebook dropped by a ‘Shinigami’ – a god of death, played Adam Pascal. Any person whose name is written in the book would die within 30 seconds. Fuelled by a sense of injustice, Light embarks on a mission to bring retribution to the wrongdoers of the world, earning him the moniker ‘Kira’. As his vigilant pursuit gains momentum law enforcement, lead by his own father, and even international intelligence agencies like the FBI launch investigations. With the fear of getting caught and death he resorts to writing the names of his pursuers in his notebook. The one agent who is most successful in narrowing down the search is known only as L, Dean John Wilson, and thus is thwarts Light’s efforts to eliminate him. The rest of the narrative focuses in the cat-and-mouse game between L and Light with nods to Kira’s adoration by the public including pop star Misa, played by Frances Mayli Mccann and Kira’s rejection by his sister and father.

Does that seem like a lot? The narrative might appear intricate, particularly to those who like me are unacquainted with the source material. The act of condensing manga so vast and beloved into a two hour performance inevitably priorities plot and exposition over emotional depths and relationships. Yet despite this momentous task and the heavy exposition, primarily in the first act, it works. In conversationists with fans of the original manga it was clear they loved it while my own limited exposure before attending did not hinder my enjoyment.

The show is called ‘Death note in concert’ but does not feel like a concert in any way. There stage design immerses the audience in a manga-inspired atmosphere, enhanced by intricate costumes and choreography. The show seamlessly melds the manga’s essence with nods to its origins, all while embracing the musical medium and delivering standout performances across the cast.

Undoubtedly, the cast’s performances are the show’s crown jewel. The portrayal of Light and L stand out. Their intertwined dynamic is extraordinary, mirroring watch others animosity and obsession. Dean John Wilson as L is particularly delightful, infusing his character with eccentricities that highlight his villainy while adding humour to his obsessive nature. My desire for more emotions was met as I found myself with teary eyes in a song between Light’s father and the detectives when they realise that this investigation may be their last.

Though there are instances of hurried exposition and plot overload, it doesn’t take away from the thought-provoking and enjoyable show. ‘Death Note in Concert’ caters to the manga enthusiasts, who will undoubtedly find the show to be a gem. Those who are unfamiliar with the material are in for an evening of fantastic performances and a story which questions the lines of justice.

  • Musical
  • Directed and Choreographed by Nick Winston
  • Music by: Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics by: Jack Murphy
  • Book By: Ivan Menchell
  • Cast includes: Adam Pascal, Joaquin Pedro Valdes, Dean John Wilson, Frances Mayli Cann
  • London Palladium moving to the Lyric Theatre
  • 7-10 September
  • Run time: 2 hours 20 including interval

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