Get a personalised letter from Santa

Theatre review: Quasimodo at the King’s Head Theatre

PUBLISHED: 13:10 25 March 2013 | UPDATED: 14:27 25 March 2013

Steven Webb as Quasimodo and Zoe George as Esmeralda in Quasimodo at the Kings Head Theatre. Picture: Francis Loney

Steven Webb as Quasimodo and Zoe George as Esmeralda in Quasimodo at the Kings Head Theatre. Picture: Francis Loney

Francis Loney

It is rather poetic that as the Cathedral of Notre Dame celebrates its 850th anniversary with a new set of bells, a fresh adaptation of Quasimodo is gracing our theatres.

Steven Webb as the title character in Quasimodo at the Kings Head Theatre. Picture: Francis LoneySteven Webb as the title character in Quasimodo at the Kings Head Theatre. Picture: Francis Loney

Except this is not a new production, rather a labour of love from composer Lionel Bart, renowned for the stage musical Oliver! The piece was actually written 50 years ago but sadly never came to light during his lifetime.

Enter director Robert Chevara, who has restored this self-proclaimed ‘diamond in the rough’ and carefully polished what is a stark portrayal of prejudice and corruption.

The play exposes us to the seedy Parisian underworld, which hammers home themes of deception and greed, almost to the extent that we forget the memorable love story simmering under the surface.

The unusual detour leaves the narrative stuttering initially, especially as Quasimodo only truly takes centre stage during the climax before the interval.

But his prolonged arrival is well worth the wait. Steven Webb’s performance epitomises the contrasting layers of anger and juvenile exuberance that exists within any social recluse. His uncouth interaction with both the surroundings and fellow cast members enables him to thrive in a physically and emotionally demanding role.

Yet, Esmeralda, played by Zoë George, threatens to steal the show with her exquisite singing voice, which triumphs during group renditions, while James Wolstenholme brilliantly illustrates Priest Claude Follo’s rapid descent into aphrodisia.

The musical score is surprisingly diverse and the three-piece orchestra defies its intimate surroundings to create a cinematic atmosphere. The light-hearted numbers Abracadabra and Introducing You, in which Quasimodo charmingly tells Esmeralda the names of the Notre Dame bells, inject a welcome dose of humour in an otherwise dark and twisted tale.

The world premiere of this modern day portrayal finds a fitting home at the King’s Head, who are pioneers of experimental productions. However, the set is severely restricted and curiously resembles an arachnid building site, with ladders and scaffolding seemingly held together by a web of sellotape.

Nevertheless, Quasimodo is incredibly evocative and will surely evolve out of its current surroundings to finally claim its rightful place in the West End.

Latest Islington Entertainment Stories

Friday, December 7, 2018

Research from the MS Society has shown that 60 per cent of people who live with multiple sclerosis feel lonely – that’s 12 times the national average.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Customers rave about these family-friendly luxury cottages in the gorgeous Devon countryside complete with indoor and outdoor pools, tennis court and play area

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Iconic 80s album artwork for Eurythmics, Bryan Ferry and Tina Turner goes on show at a Clerkenwell Gallery

Thursday, December 6, 2018

A housing association based in Islington has curated an art show allowing their creative residents to exhibit work alongside a clutch of professional artists.

Promoted Content

Fostering older teenagers means giving them the skills for life as an adult. Here, a supportive lodgings carer with Islington Council and young adult who has left care share their stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Islington Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read entertainment

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now