Of course, it could be a little longer. It could even be significantly longer if it wanted. Antonia Fraser’s book, The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605, runs to 448 pages, for instance, so it’s not as if context and details of what went on and the reasons for it all are lacking. At fifty minutes, however, it’s a marvel that Treason The Musical retains a steady pace, although it does that Jersey Boys style thing of blurting out much of the narrative in the form of direct addresses to the audience.
Interestingly, perhaps the most well known of the plotters, Guido Fawkes, is mentioned but remains an off-stage character, with the focus instead largely on the plotters’ leader, Robert Catesby (Oliver Tompsett), and to a lesser extent, Thomas Percy (Bradley Jaden). If anything, then, it is a good opportunity to find out a bit more about the other characters – and no prior knowledge of the events is required to follow proceedings.
In its assertion that anti-Catholic ‘oppressive measures’ lasted for (give or take) three hundred years following the Gunpowder Plot, the narrative appears to gloss over elements of anti-Catholic sentiment that remain. It is there, and while perhaps not as prevalent as attacks on other faiths, it’s never been completely eradicated, even if the days of being executed or otherwise hung, drawn and quartered are long gone, and most Catholic opposition nowadays comes from secularists rather than Protestants. Otherwise, the show tells it like it is, though a few refinements to the libretto are required. One rhyming couplet had me in stitches: “Now let’s take you back to 1603 / That’s two years before this whole tragedy”. Yes, I’m quite aware that 1605 minus 1603 is two, thank you.
Perhaps appropriately, it’s not exactly a song and dance extravaganza, although the final number manages – tastefully, would you believe it – to give the show a galvanising (‘happy’ doesn’t, for obvious reasons, quite cut it) ending. A good variety of musical styles and tempos is deployed, with some numbers rising to the kind of emphatic musical theatre ending that is bound to elicit strong applause at some point once the show is permitted to be performed in front of a live audience.
Given the amount of rhyming in the spoken narration, I wonder if this show could potentially work as an entirely sung-through show. If characters like Martha Percy (Lucie Jones) seem a tad underdeveloped, I suspect this is at least partly down to not having a great deal of biographical detail available to go on. Some lessons can be drawn from this historical musical, applicable to contemporary life, especially in the dangers inherent in fighting fire with fire. It’s lively and engaging, though one gets the feeling that there is more to this story than what is revealed.
Review by Chris Omaweng
The world premiere of this exclusive musical concert is performed by a selection of some of the West End’s most gifted performers including Lucie Jones (Legally Blonde, Waitress), Oliver Tompsett (& Juliet, Kinky Boots), Daniel Boys (Falsettos, Nativity Rocks!), Waylon Jacobs (Hamilton, Memphis), Bradley Jaden (Les Misérables, Wicked), Emmanuel Kojo (Oklahoma!, Show Boat), Rebecca LaChance (School of Rock, Beautiful), Cedric Neal (Chess, Motown), Sharon Rose (Hamilton, Caroline Or Change), and alongside the multi-talented poet, writer and performer, Debris Stevenson (Poet in da Corner), as the show’s narrator.* *Please note that the Treason in concert cast differs from the original track recording cast.
The songs from Treason are performed and filmed live in concert at London’s prestigious Cadogan Hall.
Remember, remember the 5th of November,
for its gunpowder, treason, and plot
We’re here to tell you the rest of the tale,
the one that history books forgot
Guy Fawkes remains an anonymous figure,
we have more to bring to the table
It’s time to meet the rest of the plotters,
in our fiery musical fable
With a fusion of original folk and pop songs, this wonderful new musical tells one of the most intriguing tales in England’s history, and features a stunning score and lyrics by Ricky Allan, and book by Kieran Lynn and Ricky Allan. The musical’s world premiere and online concert will be directed by Hannah Chissick, with musical supervision by Nick Pinchbeck and orchestration and additional arrangements by Matthew Malone.
Following the successful release of five tracks from the musical on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music, the concert will also showcase a further five new and unheard tracks from the show.
The first five exclusive tracks released from the musical are: Take Things Into Our Own Hands featuring Hadley Fraser, Waylon Jacobs, Emmanuel Kojo and Oliver Savile; The Day Elizabeth Died featuring Kelly Agbowu, Hadley Fraser, Waylon Jacobs, Emmanuel Kojo, Rebecca LaChance, Christina Modestou and Oliver Savile; Blind Faith featuring Rosalie Craig and Oliver Savile; The Promise featuring Daniel Boys and Oliver Savile; and The Cold, Hard, Ground featuring Hadley Fraser.
Follow Treason the Musical on all social media platforms @treasonmusical and treasonthemusical.com to be the first to hear the latest news and information.
Music & Lyrics by Ricky Allan
Book by Ricky Allan & Kieran Lynn
Directed by Hannah Chissick
Musical Supervision by Nick Pinchbeck
Orchestration & Additional Arrangements by Matthew Malone
Produced by Stephen McGill & Ricky Allan for Fiery Fable Productions, Square Peg
Productions & Katy Galloway Productions, alongside Associate Producer Piers Cottee-Jones
TREASON THE MUSICAL IN CONCERT
Filmed live from Cadogan Hall, London
Concert Streaming Dates:
Friday 12 March – 7.30pm
Saturday 13 March – 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday 14 March – 2.30pm and 6.00pm