Les Miserables Honor Bishop Latymer Upper School
Victor Hugo’s hauntingly human novel Les Miserables tells the intertwined stories of his characters during the French revolution in a cocktail of drama and pathos- no wonder then, that its plot has stood the test of time. The book, written in 1862, was adapted into a musical in 1980, and again in 1985 (in English this time) by Cameron Mackintosh. His musical is still filling and delighting theatres, and has been doing so for over 30 years.
I went to see Les Miserables at the Sondheim theatre earlier this month. I felt the production- inspiring, exciting and eye-opening- lived up to the difficult task of telling Hugo’s delicate emotional story impressively. The pivot of the musical- its rousing songs- were performed magnificently: the actors’ incredible voices and the simple but striking props and lighting transport the viewer to France in the 1780s, from the bittersweet Parisian barricades to the despair of a boat propelled by the oars of prisoners, destined to slavery.
Jon Robyns, playing the main character, Jean Valjean, made a particularly lasting impression on the viewer. Presenting his characters’ emotions candidly in a brilliantly impactful voice, he led the theatre-goer through the complex story smoothly as if with ease. The actor playing little Gavroche- a small boy who stood side by side with men on the barricades with awe-inspiring bravery- also deserves praise, invoking strong affection and offering well-needed light-heartedness to otherwise gravely melancholy scenes.
I would highly recommend this musical to all, and would urge those with limited knowledge of Hugo’s work to become acquainted with the storyline and the musical’s songs before the production to extract maximum enjoyment.