Just over two years since The Bodyguard closed at The Strand’s Adelphi Theatre, the hit filled thriller returned to London, taking up residence in the huge Dominion Theatre with soul singing superstar Beverley Knight at the helm. I must admit that it was the casting of Beverley Knight that drew me into seeing the show. Of course I wouldn’t have been too disappointed to see an understudy but I was looking forward to seeing her again since last seeing her perform last year in Memphis The Musical.
I had seen the film in the past, but couldn’t really remember the ins and outs of the plot. To put it basically, superstar Rachel Marron (Knight) begins to receive threatening notes from a stalker who appears impossible to catch in the act. Her over protective support team brings in a secretive and stoic bodyguard by the name of Frank Farmer (Glen Fox) to protect her and her son. He doesn’t fit in well with the team, remaining stoic and tightening security to a very high level. I won’t give it away entirely because who does, if it came back once, it could come back again.
Beverley Knight is undeniably the star of the show, no questions asked. To be completely honest, she saves the show. The plot is overall sub-standard, but for the majority it is predictable with one slightly shocking moment mid way through. But Knight has the ability to save the day with her vocals alone. No one sings like her. In my opinion, no one can carry off a power ballad such as ‘I will always love you’ like her. She can act too, and dance. It’s not surprising that most of the talk in the interval was about her. Her relationship with Glen Fox is good and believable, considering he is the understudy of the role.
There is nothing wrong with an understudy. Glen Fox was an excellent Frank. Yes, he was strong and stoic, but also able to show his softer sides in scenes with Rachel’s son and her sister Nicki. He had the audience laughing with his dodgy karaoke renditions of the hits. It was good to see an understudy on the Dominion Stage receiving a good reaction from the audience after all of the negative press and terrible feedback from the recent production of ‘War of the Worlds’ in which the understudy took on one of the main roles in most of the performances. Those in charge certainly did not handle that particularly well and I must say that it was not announced by loud speaker or by a slip in the programme that the understudy was on for this performance so I hate to think of the reactions of those that brought their tickets hoping to see the top billed performer. Bad organisation on the theatre’s behalf.
Continuing of the touched upon subject of organisation, this is not something that the staff of the Dominion Theatre seem to know much about. For both the opening and act two beginning, lots of people were brought in late in quiet moments were the movement of people finding their seats and moving the curtains around the exits was distracting. Before the show, the main merchanise stand was unmanned although that is where all of it was displayed. Also, during the interval I saw ushers allowing people to enter the auditorium with glass bottles. Am I wrong in thinking that this has been against Theatre policies for years now??
Not to mention the fact that the stage door manager had everyone line up against the wall, announcing that it was one photograph and one autograph per person only, stating that Beverley Knight would soon be out to see her fans, then fifteen minutes after leaving us waiting in the freezing cold announced that she had gone out of the front exit. I wouldn’t have minded so much had they not asked as all to line up, giving us the impression that Knight was coming out soon.
That’s my little rant over. Moving on to mention the setting and overall look of the show. The sets were good, moving from Rachel’s mansion through to the grand stage of the academy awards and these worked well, moving the story seamlessly forward. But there was one thing about the overall look of the show that I did not like very much. I know that parts of the show are performances within a performance, meaning that there are scenes were Rachel Marron is putting on a show and these scenes are pivotal to the story. But to me, these scenes felt very fake. Perhaps it was the fact that even I could tell from sitting towards the back of the huge dress circle that the back up dancers and singers were performing to a pre-recorded track, by the looks of it only Knight was performing fully live. Also, there was a lot of pre-recorded cheers and audience reaction which whilst I know is needed to create the feel of Rachel’s performances made these scenes feel false.
Overall, the show was good but not great. This maybe able to be put down to false feel mentioned before and the behaviour of some members of the audience including seemingly drunk behaviour featuring some terrible singing and dancing along, use of mobile phones and the general feel that some people around where I was sitting seemed to not want to be there at all. I would have liked to see the show closer to the stage, and further away from before mentioned bad behaviour. But the show itself was good, it had the right balance of fun and dancing intertwined with the creepy thriller of the stalker, who was very creepy indeed. The use of video’s behind the actors as each note was read out and the way the actor playing the stalker stood, staring blankly at the audience when ever he was being spoken about added to his creepiness. Yes, the plot is only alright and it does rely on Knight to carry the show but she does exactly that. There is no denying her star quality and I hope to see her back in another show in the West End soon following the end of The Bodyguard’s run at the Dominion in January.