Sunday, April 6, 2014 Leave a Comment
Henrik Lyding’s review in Danish national newspaper Jyllands-Posten calls LIZZIE hard-boiled and the singers formidable. This translation has been pulled together using Google and Bing; the original Danish article is here.
A ghoulish mixture of musical and rock concert is the story of America’s most famous axe murderer, from 1892, Lizzie Borden, who – I believe – beat her parents to death. Probably, because she was never convicted of it. The performance here is now not in doubt – Lizzie swings the axe cheerfully and blood spurts down to the crowd in the front rows, who for the occasion are wearing raincoats!
Here are both hatred and love pulled up in a big rock format, all saturated with a furious anger that just pours off the stage in song after song.
The musical is American and this is its European premiere at Fredericia Teater. The setup is simply impressive. It features four Herculean female singers along with a terrific orchestra. The scene looks like a rock concert – tall metal towers and lots of floodlight effects, garnished with smoke, and really is dramatic. The four sing with hand-held microphones, so we do not for a second forget the concert aspect. But they are also wearing Victorian dresses and hairdos as they play and sing their way through the bloody history. Not to mention after the break, where they provide plenty of vampy brothel decadence – Lizzie (Bjørg Gamst), her hard-boiled sister Emma (Line Krogholm), the maid Bridget (Astrid Højgaard) and Lizzie’s girlfriend Alice (Rikke Hvidbjerg), who ends up testifying against her in court.
24 hard-boiled songs are presented, supplemented by a few story lines, as we come through the traumatic story of a highly dysfunctional family, where the father loves his youngest daughter Lizzie a little too much. A stifling family atmosphere with a hated stepmother, who is allegedly trying to keep family assets for herself at the expense of the daughters. Along the way Lizzie considers poisoning, rumors and whispers pass between the sisters, Lizzie’s girlfriend, and the servant maid, and it all culminates a day on which when first the mother and then the father gets a turn with the axe! We end up with a visit from the police –- who were shown a blood-stained dress that suddenly disappeared -– and finally a day in court, where Lizzie is acquitted for lack of evidence.
Along the way, we are satisfied with heaving and melodic rock tracks with titles like “Why Are All These Heads Off”, “What the F**k Now, Lizzie” and “Burn the Old Thing Up”. The American director Victoria Bussert has pared dialogue all the way down and thoroughly choreographed every move, so the story is completely tight in a simple set design with accompanying video graphics and impressive lighting. But first and last, the performance is borne by the four singers. Here are both hate and love pulled up in the big rock format, all saturated with a furious anger, that just flows down from the scene in song after song.
This may be the season’s most well-sung music performance – what a format, what voices! A performance that doesn’t look like anything else in the Danish musical landscape.