End of The Rainbow

Malvern Theatres

****

THE tumultuous twilight years of Judy Garland's life make for quite a story with the drugs, boozing, husbands and most importantly, her acerbic wit.

When I say twilight, I'm sadly referring to the mid-40s as the legendary film star and singer died in London from an overdose of sleeping pills 12 days after her 47th birthday..

The lead up to that premature death is dramatised in this beautifully Lisa as Judycrafted play by Peter Quilter  which chronicles Garland's stay in London with her young fiancé Mickey Deans to perform at The Talk Of The Town nightclub in the London Hippodrome in 1969.

Moving between their suite in a London hotel and The Talk Of The Town stage, it's a glamorous, easily adapted set and shining bright at the centre of it all is actress Lisa Maxwell.

Lisa Maxwell as Judy Garland

She has impressively mastered Garland’s mannerisms, addiction and vulnerability, but the talented actress has years of experience in impression sketches dating back to early on in her career on the Russ Abbot Show and her own vehicle, The Lisa Maxwell Show, in 1991.

She not only acts beautifully but recreates Garland's singing voice for the smattering of songs that intersect the drama, none more poignant than the finale of Over The Rainbow.

The plot focusses on the relationships between Garland, her lover and gay piano player Anthony Chapman, who idolises her.

Gary Wilmot is well cast as the likeable pianist, who wants to rescue Garland from the tragic demise he can foresee; while Sam Attwater adds another dimension to troubled fiancé Deans, who is out of his depth coping with a self-destructing Garland. 

There is a lot of swearing and screaming matches, but it seems true to how Garland would have been as an addict.

The script is sharp and filled with gloriously witty moments, usually at Garland's darkest moments, but that makes the production feel very fresh. 

It's as funny as it is sad - which in some ways finds itself in common with Garland herself - and it's that yo-yo of emotions that makes for a great show. To 09-04-16.

Alison Brinkworth

05-04-16 

Lisa Maxwell talks about her role

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