Review: Classic Sondheim musical Company has bite on the Leamington stage

Nick Le Mesurier reviews Company at the Loft Theatre, Leamington

The cast of Company: ‘The whole cast is outstanding in the way they deliver not just the songs but the characters’ (Photo: Richard Smith Photography)

Marriage. It goes with love like…what? Oil and vinegar? That’s the premise behind Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical, Company, which is the Loft Theatre’s seasonal offering this year. Justly lauded with a host of awards since it first hit the stage, it is a big, complex, witty, serious, funny show that, even now, fifty years after it first hit the stage, seems fresh and original.

Chris Gilbey-Smith. is Robert, a 35-year-old bachelor living in New York, who is surrounded by married couples seemingly intent on getting him hitched, even though their own marriages are far from perfect. Company has no plot as such, rather it is a series of vignettes exposing the ties and the fractures in each of them. It has been described as a musical for grown-ups, and in its clear eyed, no illusions form, it is.

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Which is not to take away from the fun of it, both in the play and in the Loft’s splendid production. It is packed full of memorable songs, all delivered with just that touch of bite that counters the schmaltz that so often characterises the form.

Chris Gilby-Smith is a real star. He commands the stage throughout, presenting a character that is full of wishes and doubts. Among the big cast Lindsay Ann Bryan stood out for me as Joanne, a rich New York socialite with a sharp tongue. I loved Becca Shaw’s April and Vicky Holding’s Marta, two of Richard’s girlfriends. I don’t have space to name everyone, but the whole cast is outstanding in the way they deliver not just the songs but the characters. The orchestra too, led by director James Suckling, is in fine form, always present, never intrusive.

Company is rich theatre at every level.

* Company runs until Saturday December 11. Visit www.lofttheatrecompany.com to book.