28 March 2023
Southwark Playhouse Elephant
4.0 out of 5.0 stars
When I heard that the brand new Southwark Playhouse venue in Elephant and Castle is putting on a Berlusconi musical, I just had to book a seat to find out what this show is all about.
One of the most colourful European political figures of the recent past, Berlusconi was a larger than life personality. Ladies man, folk hero, controversial politician, Silvio Berlusconi had it all going on.
This production tackles the public figure’s life with a sparkle in its eye. The entirely sung-through musical (though Silvio would tell you it’s an opera, of course) is full of life and laughter. A sparkling production that is wholly unexpected in its light-heartedness despite its sometimes heavy topics.
Berlusconi is a very different political musical, staying on the fun side with big show tunes and an endless amount of energy. A very steep stage of marble-look steps is the perfect backdrop for this romp, leading through the politician’s life from earliest cruise ship singer days, over his time as a successful builder who transformed Milan, to political ambitions and roaring success. With a good dose of self-aware irony, the Italian leader is portrayed as a charming, yet ruthless man full of ambition.
While none of the songs is particularly memorable, the soundtrack is upbeat and often centres the women of the story in its heart. With interesting live camera work, and fun surprises along the way, it’s not very deeply examinative, but gives a great, light overview of Berlusconi’s life and legal struggles.
A funny and clever show that seems to have high ambitions of its own.