The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
03 June 2023
Southwark Playhouse Elephant
4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Even though you might think so at first, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not a movie-to-musical production, instead this musical takes the general idea of the original short story, and writes its own plot around that. In parts, this is extremely successful, creating a very different life for Benjamin, in other parts it becomes a bit tired and tropey.
The biggest stand-out of the show is the 12-strong cast who all join in singing and playing instruments, slipping into a variety of characters throughout, setting a brilliant pace and mood. Setting the story in the early 1900s in a small village in Cornwall, Benjamin Button is born as an old man, complete with a tweed suit, bowler hat, and pipe. He has the interests and vocabulary of an old man. Mortified, his parents hide him away in the attic, terrified of what the rest of the village might think should they find out that this was their son. Within a few years, Benjamin’s mother ends her life in grief over the abomination she birthed, which is a bit intense of a re-write that didn’t set entirely well with me personally.
However, Benjamin’s story progresses. As he ages backwards, he looks in his 50s as a teen, when he finds an escape route from his attic room, heading to the local pub every Friday. Here, he meets the love of his life, young barmaid Elowen. Over several years they get closer, spending the occasional moment talking about life, hopes, and dreams.
Of course their plans of running away together are thwarted, and many other things happen before they finally re-unite. The story is very lovingly told, with many twists and turns, following Benjamin and Elowen on their eventful life.
A good production with an amazing soundtrack that makes a tragic story a joyful experience. Absolutely beautiful.