Lisa Maxwell and rainbow head

End of the Rainbow

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

*****

THE name Judy Garland is synonymous with Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz, but Peter Quilter’s play, End of the Rainbow, is no fairy tale.

It is a glimpse into the real life of this former child star, as she makes a last effort to rekindle her fame.

Set in 1969, the lavish set, a sumptuous Rococo style cream, gold and marble London hotel suite, sets the scene for this roller coaster journey, as the iconic Garland struggles to Lisa MAxwellmake a comeback at The Talk Of The Town. The transformation of the set from hotel suite to night club is clever and effective.

Lisa Maxwell, as the troubled Judy gives a superb performance. Her portrayal in gesture, delivery and manner is so well observed. We are treated to some of Garland’s most memorable numbers throughout, which are sung in a convincingly Judy style with passion and feeling, accompanied by her devoted pianist, Anthony. Maxwell’s performance of the woman who just wants to be loved is a delight to watch.

Lisa Maxwell as Judy Garland, who died of a drug overdose in London in 1969, just 12 days after her 47th birthday. Pictures: Pamela Raith

Anthony Chapman is given a delightful characterisation by Gary Wilmot. His loyalty and love for Judy is constant, portraying understanding and compassion when her moods hit the highs and lows. In Anthony, we see a reflection of the devotion that the gay community had for Garland. The tender moments they share whilst he helps her to apply her makeup are heart warming.

Sam Attwater completes the trio as Mickey Deans, Judy’s fiancé, manager and soon to be husband number five. Does mild villain Deans really love Judy or is he just out to profit from her? We watch as Mickey struggles to get the upper hand in this tempestuous relationship.

The interplay between the characters moves from subtle humour, high drama, pathos, anger and anxiety. The whole range of human emotions is here as Judy’s life spirals out of control under the influence of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.

It has to be noted that strong language is used throughout but this is not inappropriate or unnecessary. This is interspersed by the many hilarious one liners and deeply touching moments. Will Judy find the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Judy Garland fan or not this is definitely worth seeing. Runs to 27-02-16

Rosemary Manjunath and Elizabeth Smith

23-02-16 

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