Wednesday 28 June 2023

Tarantino Live - Review

Riverside Studios, London


Adapted and directed by Anderson Davis

Karen Mav

Tarantino Live is a grand title - for a show that is really Tarantino’s soundtracks, live. One of the most influential filmmakers of the last 30 years, Quentin Tarantino’s work is a consistent fusion of razor-sharp scripts, performed by the greatest actors of the time, accompanied by graphically brutal violence, and all set to soundtracks that are each sensational albums of tracks that span both decades and genres.

Tarantino compilations make for eclectic listening and it is a credit to this show’s cast and band that their work so authentically conjures up the musical magic of the movies. In what is possibly the best covers set in town George Strickland’s band, brilliantly supported by occasional actor-musician contributions from the cast are sublime. Musically and vocally, the show is flawless.

But it is a foolish quest to have tried to interpolate Tarantino’s exquisite dialogue onto a Hammersmith stage. Some of the movies' most famous lines are played out, often interwoven from different stories, in sequences that are more akin to snatches from Tarantino's Greatest Hits. It is nigh-on impossible to replicate the droll irony of Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel et al, a challenge that the producers and creatives would have been wiser to avoid.  

Equally, it is the talent of Hollywood’s special effects crews that make us gasp and wince at the movies' horrific bloodshed. At the Riverside we merely smile in a kind but un-shocked manner, acknowledging the visuals that the production is trying to achieve. The one exception to this critique is the second act's car chase, taken from the movie Death Proof. This little vignette that has to be one of the finest examples of low-budget technical brilliance to be found on a London stage

All of the cast sing magnificently, but particular shout-outs to Maëva Feitelson, Karen Mav, George Maguire and Lifford David Shillingford whose work through the evening is frequently sublime.

If you’re not familiar with Tarantino’s movies you’ll find the show perplexing. If you love the man’s soundtrack choices then sit back and enjoy how skilfully this company perform the classic numbers. In a show that could easily be trimmed by half an hour, Tarantino Live makes for an unusual night’s entertainment.

Runs until 13th August

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