Have you ever wondered what is the strongest force in the universe, love or death? Well, thanks to the creative talents behind Grim: a New musical, currently playing at the Charing Cross Theatre, you can finally find out.
An opening scene that revolves around the death of a baby in a house fire wouldn’t strike everybody as the best way to start a love story, but this is the catalyst for Death who is unable to understand human emotions. Transforming herself into Grim (Roseanna Christoforou), Death goes to school to find the answers to her questions about the human race. Once there, she meets Cupid (Anthony Matteo) and, inevitably, love is in the air for the pair of them.
The problem for Grim is that she is not really in control of what she does and has a tendency to react to strong emotions in a rather negative way and, as they say ‘death stalks the land’. And the poor girl has a variety of strong emotions to contend with. As well as a love interest, she finds herself getting a best friend in the shape of the sister of the dead bay from the first scene, Amelia (Georgi Mottram), and being hunted by a Shakespearian trio of bitches Cherry, Sabrina and Ruby (Kathryn Rutherford, Rhiannon Drake and Louisa Cameron), who not only enjoy picking on the new girl in town with venomous glee but also have their own unrequited love of Cupid to contend with. All in all, the scene is set for a potential bloodbath of love, jealousy and confused emotions.
The first act moves at a breakneck speed, taking Grim from her first days at school, to meeting Cupid and Amelia, being hated by Cherry, Sabrina and Ruby and through to the Halloween dance where, unable to control herself, Grim does what she does best – a disastrous outcome for one of the students.
The second act takes place in slower time as the characters react to the horrors of the first. Grim becomes more isolated as Cupid becomes more smitten with her. Amelia finds love can be requited after all as she is finally noticed by the so handsome Matthew (Jordon Veloso) and Cherry really turns to the Dark Side in her hatred and pursuit of Grim. The action builds to a climax that is unexpected in many ways and left me, yet again, with a touch of the sniffles as Cupid…………….. sorry, no spoilers but it was great.
The production itself was excellent. From the silent hooded figures standing at the side of the auditorium as we walked in, through to the end, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. All of the songs were great (I’m listening to the soundtrack on Spotify as I write this) and delivered by an extremely strong and talented cast whose voices, particularly in the duets, complimented each other wonderfully. I loved the staging, though if I was being really pernickety, I would have preferred a plain black backdrop rather than the school gates.
My only criticism is that I felt the show was too short. Some important details seemed to have been left out and I wanted to know more details about many of the characters. For example, we knew why Grim was at the school, but it was never really established what Cupid was doing there, or indeed if Cupid was the real, bona fide God of love or just a good looking bloke that bore the name.
I went to see the show with a drama graduate and we had quite an animated discussion afterwards. It was interesting to hear the opinion of a trained professional and compare it with my own thoughts as a member of the public out to be entertained. We disagreed on some aspects, although we both thought the cast was amazing, but ultimately for me, it was a great show with a very strong second act that made me care about the characters themselves. The other thing we did agree on was that following a bit of fleshing out, this would make an excellent transfer to the West-End.
Finally, to answer the question raised in the first paragraph of this review. Which is stronger Love or Death? Without giving anything away I’m going to leave you with a quote from Sir Walter Scott “In peace, Love tunes the shepherd’s reed; In war, he mounts the warrior’s steed; In halls, in gay attire is seen; In hamlets, dances on the green. Love rules the court, the camp, the grove, and men below, and saints above; For Love is heaven, and heaven is Love”
Review by Terry Eastham
Grim: A New Musical is the epic story of the Grim Reaper falling in love with Cupid….. but if she is with him it will lead to his demise. Grim cannot be complete without her soul and Cupid cannot be complete without his soul mate. This is the story of the collision of the two most powerful forces in the world – the power of love versus the power of death…. This spellbinding new musical is the love story to DIE for!
Grim: A new musical by the Untold Theatre Company
Charing Cross Theatre
4th to 30th August 2014
Booking and more information at: