From the first crack of the whip you are hooked. The Prince of Egypt is an absolute extravaganza – lavish costumes, acrobatic physical theatre, innovative staging, stunning vocals and a gut-wrenching storyline, all rousingly contained within the score of Stephen Schwartz. As a homage to physical theatre, The Prince of Egypt is an outstandingly beautiful revival of Dreamworks’ 1998 film.
The Prince of Egypt follows the story of Moses on his quest to free the Hebrews from the Pharaoh of Egypt. As an iconic and harrowing tale, it confronts the journey of discovery – a journey of sacrifice, trauma and torture. This musical explores the ultimate test of some of our vital qualities: faith, family, justice, and morality – a test that ultimately proves their inability to coexist harmoniously. This is a show rooted in the reality of slavery and betrayal. If you consider Wicked to be at one end of Schwartz’s spectrum, The Prince of Egypt very much sits firmly at the juxtaposing end.
The cast, themselves, deserve a five star rating but the material lands just shy… I can’t help but feel that this has aimed for Les Misérables heights and fallen one rung below on the ladder. The standard of the vocal and physical performances cannot be faulted but there is something missing. Schwartz has crafted an additional ten numbers to the existing score which, whilst they seamlessly create a rousing spectacle, do lead us to one question – are they memorable? No. Not yet at least. The show remains dominated by the iconic Deliver Us and When You Believe but, perhaps, with the arrival of the soundtrack a light will deservedly shine brighter upon the newer editions. The dialogue is a real mixed bag of character comprised of comic witticisms and Wilde-esque marriage ridiculing which, despite all being entertaining in the moment, prevent The Prince of Egypt from reaching its epic potential. The acting, at times, feels as though a directed characterisation has got in the way of true emotion or, rather, that it rejects the potential for complexity: Seti (Joe Dixon) is stuck on the tyrannical father tract and Miriam (Alexia Khadime) is oblivious to all but her prophetic faith which sometimes saps the familial potency from such scenes. That being said, the bond between Moses (Luke Brady) and Ramses (Liam Tamne) begins in a heartbreakingly strong reliance of love and brotherhood, consequently infusing an aspect of humanity into the previously remorselessly portrayed villain.
Regardless, this remains an extremely clever musical. The Prince of Egypt is stripped bare – it aims to simply showcase the body and the voice. The scenery is minimalistic brilliance, sporting an innovative fringe that frames the stage which, with projected images, creates an imposing 3D effect; it perfectly captures the movement of grass, the roaring waves of the Red Sea and the imposing statues of the Pharaohs. It is dynamic, adaptive and original. The majority of scenery and prop requirement is instead supplied by the movement of the incredible ensemble. As someone who can barely touch their toes, witnessing a leg lie 270 degrees to its normal positioning rightfully inspires a few gasps (more appropriately winces) from around the auditorium. Full of twisting, writhing, contortions, lifts, jumps, skids, splits and tricks galore their energy and talent cannot be condensed into words– you have to see it for yourself. Christine Allado, who plays the Midian princess Tzipporah is absolutely sensational – the tone of her voice is unlike any other. She truly commands her gypsy-like character, with a temper and fire akin to that of Hunchback’s Esmeralda. She is vocally the strongest, especially when accompanied by Alexia Khadime, and brings Schwartz’s soundtrack emphatically to life. Commendation also has to be extended to Luke Brady and Liam Tamne for upholding consistent brilliance in what are two very challenging roles.
This is a haunting evening where the luxuries of Ancient Egypt deteriorate right before your eyes. The Prince of Egypt should be rightfully deemed ‘physical-musical theatre’ and the soundtrack, whilst not yet meeting the grounds for obsession, is still sensational. As a complete production, what the Schwartz father and son team have pulled off here is unbelievable – you must Ramses the opportunity to watch this!
- Directed by Scott Schwartz
- Book by Philip Lazebnik
- Choreographed by Sean Cheesman
- Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
- Cast includes: Luke Brady, Liam Tamne, Christine Allado, Alexia Khadime, Mercedesz Csampai, Adam Pearce, Tanisha Spring, and Silas Wyatt-Barke
- Dominion Theatre
- Until 31st October 2020
- Time: 2hrs 40mins, including one 20 minute interval