Death Note: The Musical In Concert

The portrayal of Ryuk by Adam Pascal is a study in balanced artistry

The world of Death Note comes alive on stage in "Death Note: The Musical in Concert," choreographed and directed by Nick Winston. Within this performance, a true standout is "Playing His Game". This moment is an incredible amalgamation of talent and skill including mime, choreography, sound effects and song in such an incredible way, one would go again just to see this number.

Dean John Wilson, as the enigmatic L, commands the spotlight with an exceptional portrayal. His embodiment brought to life with music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Jack Murphy, showcases an unparalleled level of charisma. Wilson's meticulous attention to character intricacies translates into a captivating performance. Each idiosyncratic movement and nuanced gesture is a testament to his dedication. In the realm between Heath Ledger's enigmatic Joker and Tom Holland's agile Spider-Man, Wilson's rendition stands as a masterpiece of its own.

Frances Mayli McCann, portraying Misa, injects a burst of dynamic energy into the narrative. Supported by a talented ensemble, her rendition of a spirited 'pop' number provides a well-placed contrast to the underlying darkness. A moment of shared laughter with her fellow dancers, characterised by a playful handshake, brings a much-needed break in atmosphere. However an instance of unintended humour arises as Misa is playfully wheeled onstage, reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter - an odd touch that made the audience laugh with unease.

The portrayal of Ryuk by Adam Pascal is a study in balanced artistry. Pascal's performance strikes a delicate equilibrium between depth and subtlety, ensuring that the character remains engaging without descending into over acting. The elaborate costume design by Kimie Nakano, featuring flowing gowns and ethereal feathers, contributes a layer of visual enchantment. Negotiating the many stairs while maintaining the essence of their Shinigami personas showcases the commitment of both Pascal and Aime Atkinson, who embodies Rem.

However, the night I attended was not without its technical challenges. Microphone mishaps resulted in more than occasional unheard lines and words, intermittently disrupting the otherwise immersive experience. Nevertheless, as a concert-style rendition it remains a resounding success. While some concert adaptations do not have the elaborate sets, this production does, despite not always being fully integrated with the narrative.

The stage, adorned in shades of black, white, and grey, serves as a metaphorical canvas reflecting the complex interplay between law and justice. The mezzanine area features three distinct zones, paralleled by an additional zone on the stage floor. A series of interconnected staircases give access to the mezzanine levels, The stage's framing tabs are reminiscent of vintage television screens with rounded corners, this is reflected in a stack of retro TVs on the set itself. Due to the tabs and wide theatre, some seating locations may suffer from restricted views due to the layout. A seat close to the centre would be recommended.

This show was reviewed on the 21st August 2023 at the London Palladium.  Death Note: The Musical In Concert moves to the Lyric Theatre for a limited run between the 7-11 September 2023.  Tickets available here: DEATH NOTE THE MUSICAL

Review written by Valentine Gale-Sides

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Photo credit: Mark Senior

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