Theatre Review: La Ronde at the Rosemary Branch Theatre

New musical LA RONDE is set in a gay bar and explores sex in all its variations – but among the saucy tunes this production is missing a showstopper.

DON’T go and see this new musical expecting a recreation of Schnitzler’s La Ronde set to music - as this is a much more human piece.

Inspired by the original, it still focuses on the hedonistic search for sexual gratification but much of the emptiness has gone. Yes, sex can be cynical, manipulative and often comic, but in the world of Homos Promos’ La Ronde sex is also warm, fun and liberating.

Rather than a series of unconnected vignettes the characters overlap and are part of contemporary society which focuses on a gay bar where people come and go. It’s a community seeking sex where unexpected connections are made and refreshed.

There are of course a limited number of variations but the show explores most of them and adds some enjoyable twists. The simple and witty set and intelligent lighting flatter the action and venue. The actors’ characterisations are very real and avoid what might have been an easy trap of caricature.

I particularly enjoyed Cheryl Mayer’s generous Dyke, Fiona Byrne’s confused Wife, and Randy Smartnick’s even more confused and cuddly gay friend and Fag.

The music drives the action, as it should in a musical and there are some good tunes but, for me, the show seems to be missing a real showstopper.

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That said, the lyrics are often clever and funny, and although the show would benefit from some judicious cutting, it is thoroughly enjoyable and has potential to develop further.

* Showing at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Shepperton Road, N1, until Sunday, April 3.