Previewed 20 December 2014, Opened 12 January 2015, Closed 23 May 2015 at the Playhouse Theatre in London
The Broadway stage musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in London adapted from the film by Pedro Almodóvar and especially reconceived and re-imagined for the West End stage.
Set in Madrid, this musical comedy centres around Pepa and her friends as they juggle their everyday lives and extraordinary moments in a surprising, heart-breaking and rebellious way. Displayig a sexy and colourful spirit of a liberated Spain, the musical shows women struggling for power over their own lives with both humour and style.
The cast features Tamsin Greig as 'Pepa' along with Haydn Gwynne, Jerome Pradon and Anna Skellern. Please note that Tamsin Greig will not be performing from 6 to 11 April and 25 to 26 May 2015. Casting subject to change without notice. Directed by Bartlett Sher. Music and lyrics by David Yazbek with book by Jeffrey Lane adapted from Pedro Almodóvar's film of the smae name, originally based on Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice.
When this production opeend here at the Playhouse Theatre in January 2015, Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail prised it saying: "This inventive new version of Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 classic film is a stylish hoot... Magnifico!" Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times commented how "the madcap pace feels particularly forced at the outset... but this becomes a joyous evening: an affectionate, poignant and defiant tribute to female resilience." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard highlighted that "crucial to its appeal are stellar performances from Tamsin Greig and Haydn Gwynne... Thanks to a fizzier and more fluent second half this is a musical that leaves one feeling well entertained. But even if its vitality in the end proves charming, the journey is a rather bumpy one." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph held that "this is a joy of an evening, built paradoxically on the unhinging despair that all of us endure in facing rejection, heartbreak and the jealousy that comes with love betrayed... this is a real Madrid tonic." Paul Taylor in the Independent noted how "the masterstroke is the casting of Tamsin Greig in the central role of Pepa... Greig's superb timing and ability to flicker between comic absurdity and desolate melancholy are tremendous assets and prove there's no incongruity between farce and the expression through song of the fraught emotions that fuel it... It's no wonder that Almodovar has given this exhilarating version his blessing." Dominic Maxwell in the Times thought that "while their show can't always sustain its full-moon mood, and while Tamsin Greig has a rich voice but wobbly pitch, it ends up taking us somewhere both funny and tender.... And Haydn Gwynne is a delight. She excels on the show's slinky standout number, Invisible, in which she goes from caricatured crazy to a finely drawn portrait of a middle-aged woman rueing the passing of time. Sensational... Ending with a gorgeous sunset, heart-melting a cappella harmonies and a vivid sense of loss and fortitude, this show sends you out of the theatre feeling repaired." Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote that: "Although this musical version of the movie has been radically revised since its unhappy 2010 Broadway premiere and boasts a sparky performance by Tamsin Greig, it never resolves a basic problem: how to incorporate songs without slowing down the story’s momentum... It all makes for a perfectly pleasant show in which only the songs, in adding depth to character, put a brake on the story’s propulsion." Neil Norman in the Daily Express praised how this "stage version detaches itself from Pedro Almodóvar's 1988 film but it retains the comic delirium and the title's premise... Funny, frantic and vivacious it puts a smile on your face and a weevil in your brain." Sam Marlowe in the London Metro thought that "this garish car-crash of a musical might not induce a full-scale breakdown but it could well leave you with severe motion sickness. Pedro Almodovar's 1988 film is stylish, funny and heartfelt; Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbek's stage version... is aimless annd almost unremittingly hysterical... the show is too thin and too manic to make us give a flying fandango about any of it."
Writers David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane other West End credits include the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels currently playing at the Savoy Theatre. Tamsin Greig won a Laurence Olivier and Critics Award for 'Best Actress' for her role as 'Beatrice' in Marianne Elliott's production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing for the Royal Shakespeare Company (Novello Theatre 2006). Her other West End credits include the Royal Court Theatre's production of April De Angelis' Jumpy directed by Nina Raine (Duke of York's Theatre 2012), directed by Jamie Lloyd's production of Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed (Garrick Theatre 2010) and Matthew Warchus' production of Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage with Ralph Fiennes, Janet McTeer and Ken Stott (Gielgud Theatre 2008). Haydn Gwynne's recent London stage credits include playing the role 'Margaret Thatcher' opposite Helen Mirren as 'Queen Elizabeth II' in Peter Morgan's The Audience (Gielgud Theatre 2013) and the role of 'Queen Elizabeth' opposite Kevin Spacey in the title role of Shakespeare's Richard III (Old Vic Theatre 2011). Other stage adaptations of Pedro Almodóvar's films include All About My Mother which was adapted by Samuel Adamson and presented at the Old Vic Theatre in 2007 starring Lesley Manville, Mark Gatiss and Diana Rigg.
"The stop-start storyline hovers constantly between hilarity, hysteria and heartbreak, and Yazbek's songs are a perfect complement, combining hints of salsa and flamenco with some truly moving lows, especially in Island, which really tugs at the heartstrings. Greig's voice is a bit of a revelation here, too: you wouldn't call it beautiful, exactly, but she sings with real power and expression. Anna Skellern, as Candela, sings even better, if anything, rattling out a number called Model Behaviour at furious speed. It's deeply funny... There are some moments of comedy that are clumsy, and scenes that don't exactly sparkle, so it can hardly compare with the original movie; but still, this is an enjoyable evening of Spanish passion and madness to warm our cold English cockles." The Sunday Times
"David Yazbek's jaunty but unmemorable songs disastrously slow down the fast-moving plot that was one of the main attractions of the original movie. On its release in 1988 the film, with its mixture of farce, melodrama, irreverence and eccentricity, epitomised Spain's liberation from four decades of Franco's tyranny. The frenetic taxi rides through a newly enfranchised Madrid, which were integral to its effect, are here reduced to two chairs and a steering wheel, as in a fringe production of Driving Miss Daisy. Anthony Ward's set retains Pedro Almodovar's trademark fluorescent colours but is fatally cumbersome. The worst problem, however, is Bartlett Sher's inept direction, which employs a mishmash of theatrical devices to minimal effect." The Sunday Express
"This show by Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbek has been nipped and tucked by director Bartlett Sher since it bombed on Broadway in 2010. But there’s still a problem. More often than not, instead of tightening up the emotional frenzy, the songs stop the show in its tracks... Tamsin Greig’s Pepa is not only unfailingly engaging but she can hold a tune. Pity, then, that there are so few for her to hold on to. A bigger hole is created by Jerome Pradon in the pivotal role of Ivan, a charmless charisma bypass incapable of turning heads, never mind breakinghearts, in a show whose spirit is on the verge of getting lost in translation." The Mail on Sunday
The musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 20 December 2014, opened on 12 January 2015 and closed on 23 May 2015.