It’s Sondheim’s musical about nine of the fourteen individuals who have tried to assassinate American presidents, from Lincoln to Reagan. It was always going to be a little weird – and that is what is great about this musical – the selection of madcap characters, each marginalised in their own way and wiling to commit the ultimate crime in order to gain notoriety, power or revenge.
This production at The Pleasance (a new venue for me, a good space and thankfully comfortable seating…) is from 2nd Company Productions. They have brought a strong cast together who expose the contradictions and absurdities of their would-be murderers well. In particular, Brandon Force shone as the manically-positive Charles Giteau whose jazz hands all the way to the gallows were reminiscent of Monty Python. Alexander Forsyth was also compelling as the more sombre assassin Leon Czolgosz.
The ensemble numbers worked well as did the costumes, yet something still didn’t quite click. There was an inconsistency in the clarity of each Assassin’s story – the two female assassins were remarkably interesting and followable, but it was difficult to see the point of every single one to the same extent – maybe a cut of one or two of the remainder would have made for a tighter flow.
A lovely looking production with some great performances, just lacking the ‘wow’ factor to top it all off.