Theatre review: Assassins at the Pleasance

21:45 15 April 2012

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim's Assassins at the Pleasance. Photo credit: www.francisloney.com

Archant

Stephen Sondheim musical about US presidential assassinations goes off with a bang

»The history of attempts to kill US presidents isn’t exactly a subject that screams out to be made into a musical.

But with his 1990 show Assassins, now revived at the Pleasance, Sweeney Todd composer Stephen Sondheim did just that, somehow conjuring comedy from this unlikely theme.

It begins by introducing the would-be assassins – four who got their targets and five who failed – in a darkly funny first number, Everybody’s Got the Right. One-by-one they emerge before a charismatic gun-seller, who convinces them that killing a president will solve all their problems - even stomach cramps.

The show examines what drove each of this group of misfits. Occasionally the tone reflects the serious subject, as when it focuses on put-upon factory worker Leon Czolgosz, who killed William McKinley, but on the whole it is played for laughs.

Most of the characters are nutty buffoons, the loopiest of all being Charles Guiteau - hilariously played by Brandon Force - who thinks he will be made French ambassador and takes aim at James Garfield when he isn’t.

The comedy helps strip away the weight of their historical significance to present them as simply confused and disturbed people - and there is probably truth in that.

The cast, from a troupe dedicated to Sondheim’s works, 2nd Company, put in strong performances throughout to ensure this funny and thought-provoking production goes off with a bang.

* Assassins was at the Pleasance in Carpenters Mews, N7

Latest Stories

Yesterday, 18:25
The scene outside the Tesco the following morning. [Photograph by John Hercock]

A 58-year-old man was “tarred and feathered” while he lay intoxicated on a bench outside Tesco in Roneo Corner, Romford.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:01
This Scorpion sub-machine gun was found with a silencer and live ammunition [Photograph from Metropolitan Police]

A sub-machine gun complete with live ammunition has been taken off the streets of London.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:16
Three people were injured when the black cab crashed outside the Old Bailey  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Three people have been rushed to hospital after a taxi driver crashed into a pedestrian and a cyclist outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday evening.

Read more

Top Stories

Promotions

Imagine having your own idyllic house in the French countryside - and make it happen! [Photograph by Mike Simler]

Ever dreamed of living in a rural cottage in France with ivy round the door, chickens in your garden, and fresh croissants for breakfast from the local patisserie a short walk away in the nearby village?

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the ZOE was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

Quizzes

Do you fancy yourself as a football ground know-it-all? Try our devilishly difficult quiz!

How well do you know your football stadiums? This brand new quiz from London24 will seperate the men from the boys...

Read more
Do you know your Thames truths from the porkie pies? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

So, you live (or work) in London, and you think you know the river well.

Read more
Diego Costa of Chelsea exchanges words with Cesc Fabregas (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Chelsea have made several personnel changes over the course of the summer as they look to mount a squad that can challenge for the title.

Read more