The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button takes its viewers on an emotional journey

A captivating production written by Jethro Compton with enchanting music and lyrics by Darren Clark, sets the stage with a delightful Cornish fishing dock ambiance. The aged wooden floors, life rings, and intricately placed nets, including one suspended above the performance area, create a picturesque setting. As the audience eagerly awaits the performance, the soothing sounds of the sea and gentle creaking of the deck transport them to a Cornish atmosphere, heightened by the ethereal sea blue/white light filtering through the netting.

Throughout the show, numerous references to time captivate the audience's imagination. Phrases such as "time and tide wait for no one" and the exploration of years, ages, and the time taken or saved on shortcuts add depth to the narrative. The Cornish theme resonates throughout the play, portraying a quaint village where everyone knows their neighbours. This charming aspect is further accentuated by the delightful folk-style music and the impeccable execution of various character accents.

The imaginative use of physical theatre leaves a lasting impression on the audience. Particularly noteworthy is the creatively staged birth scene, which evokes a sense of magic and wonder. The performers skilfully take on multiple roles, seamlessly transitioning between characters, genders, and even a sheep, resulting in a highly successful and comical portrayal.

While the play offers many comedic moments, it also delves into serious themes. One standout musical number, 'The Moon and the Sea', performed as a predominantly one-sided duet by the talented Molly Osborne and Jamie Parker, became a personal favourite. This poignant moment is further elevated when twinkling fairy lights hidden in the netting illuminate the stage, creating a truly magical experience

The synergy of all design elements enhances the storytelling. The costumes, predominantly in a green colour palette, beautifully complement the overall aesthetic. The realistic set design, as described earlier, immerses the audience in the world of the play. Finally, the lighting design dances gracefully through the performance, enhancing every scene with precision and artistry. I feel I should add here that even the programme is beautifully designed, informative and in keeping with the design concept. 

Prior to attending the show, concerns arose regarding the portrayal of the reverse aging process on stage. However, these fears were quickly dispelled as Jamie Parker, in the role of Benjamin Button, delivered an extraordinary performance. Through the skilful use of costumes, props, and remarkable acting, Parker masterfully sheds the years before the audience's eyes, leaving a lasting impression.

By the end of the performance, the audience was on their feet, moved to tears, and clapping along with the curtain call. 
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" takes its viewers on an emotional journey, leaving an impact that will resonate long after the final bows.

This show was reviewed on the 8th June 2023.  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button plays at the Southwark Playhouse Elephant until the 1st July 2023.  Tickets available here: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Southwark Playhouse

Review written by Valentine Gale-Sides


Photo credit: Juan Coolio


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