Reviews round-up: The Go-Between at the Apollo Theatre

A reviews round-up for the West End premiere of The Go-Between starring Michael Crawford.

The musical adaptation of L.P. Hartley’s classic novel The Go-Between has now opened at London’s Apollo Theatre.

Michael Crawford returns to the West End following a 5 year absence, in show markedly different from the big spectacle musicals which cemented his musical theatre fame.

At 74 years of age, his voice doesn’t have the power of his Phantom days however he delivers a remarkably moving and sensitively sung performance.

Here’s a reviews round-up from the Guardian, Financial Times, Independent, Time Out, The Stage and Evening Standard.

The Go-Between will play from 27 May 2016 until 15 October 2016 at the Apollo Theatre.


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Average rating score for this production


“Michael Crawford returns to the West End, after a five year break, in a piece that's appreciably different from the kind of shows (Barnum, Phantom of the Opera) that rocketed him to stardom. There's no danger of mistaking The Go-Between for a noisy blockbuster but that doesn't signify any shortage of ambition in this enthralling, beautifully textured chamber-musical version of the L P Hartley novel”

“Crawford, now 74, delivers a remarkably moving and sensitively sung performance as this desiccated protagonist, with the sad, penetrating gaze”
“I can see why some might think that the show, with its silvery attic-of-memory set and its trapped, subjective atmosphere, verges on the precious at points. But, to me, it feels like a labour of love that, while faithful to the original, has a striking imaginative integrity in its own right.”

Paul Taylor, Independent

“Crawford, exuding a desiccated sadness, sings Taylor’s score beautifully and sculpts each line carefully, so that even a banal lyric such as “the colours were clearer the nearer I flew to her” achieves genuine poignancy. Thompson also catches exactly the bewilderment of the boy Leo and is deftly partnered by Archie Stevens as the more assured Marcus.”

“This evocative chamber piece, based on LP Hartley’s 1953 coming-of-age novel, is done with taste and style but never quite soars”

The Guardian, Michael Billington

‘The Go-Between’ is a perfectly tolerable night of entertainment, but there’s absolutely nothing to set the pulse racing: it feels like the perfect exemplar of how little the Brits have done to advance the musical genre since ‘London Road’ five years ago. “Having the big star continuously singing words to the equivalent of ‘EVEYTHING’S GOING TO TURN TO SHIT LATER’ for two-and-a-half hours kills any sense of joy or childish adventure in Leo’s adventures” “If you’re explicitly here to see Crawford you probably won’t mind, and it is great that somebody is writing new musicals with substantial roles for older performers. But beyond that, it’s difficult to see what the exact purpose of this muted, conservative show is.” Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

“There’s no getting round the awkward fact, though, that Crawford’s best days as a stage-actor are now behind him. The shuffling stiffness, the grey hair, the blinking sad-eyed stare through spectacles – all that strikes the right melancholy chords. The contrast between advancing infirmity and supple youth, between rueful experience and wide-eyed innocence, comes across forcefully, as Crawford stalks – and gazes after – his younger self. “But that voice is rather too rasping and, while Crawford can sustain the odd note, it’s as if he totters under the weight of the tunes.” Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph

“Musicals come in all shapes and sizes, of course, but they seldom come more unobtrusive and gently evocative than The Go-Between. It’s a rare thing, an antidote to the West End’s more strident shows” “a shimmering score that echoes everything from Benjamin Britten to Howard Goodall, with some of Sondheim's Passion thrown in for good measure.” “In a musical of tender, aching reticence, the characters come fully and thrillingly alive within Roger Haines's static but sincere staging. Gemma Sutton is in lovely, anxious voice as Marian and Stephen Carlile and Stuart Ward (both reprising roles they played in the show's 2011 premiere) superbly register the competitive claims over her, as Trimingham and Ted respectively.” “Crawford here has been cast to his strengths. It’s a performance of gravity and dignity.” Mark Shenton, The Stage

“Michael Crawford excels in this intimate stage musical”

"Michael Crawford gives affecting performance, Crawford’s voice, though, offers only a tantalising glimmer of its former multi-award-winning majesty." "There are moments to admire in Roger Haines’s production, but the piece needs more power and much better lighting" Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

Date: 8 June 2016
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