Violet (****)

Based on Doris Betts’ novel The Ugliest Pilgrim, Violet is set in North Carolina, 1964, and follows the story of Violet Karl, a young woman with a facial disfigurement from her childhood on a quest to find her miracle and finally be healed.

Performed in the round, one of the key features of the set is the revolving stage. Whilst the revolve assists the progression of the story and is effectively used during some of the more exciting moments, unfortunately a lot of sound is lost and as a result so are parts of the narrative.

Kaisa Hammarlund’s portrayal of the title role is truly excellent. Equal parts bold, brave and naive, her stunning vocals and phenomenal acting ability captivates the audience immediately. Despite knowing that the chances of her unlikely miracle happening are more than a little doubtful, one can’t help but hold out hope for her. Jay Marsh delivers some frankly outstanding vocals as Flick, particularly during Let It Sing, one of the standout moments of the show. Matthew Harvey conveys overly confident soldier Monty to a tee, also providing some excellent vocals as well as some truly electric moments. Between them, they depict the complicated relationship between the three characters perfectly. Also worth mentioning is Kieron Crook as Violet’s father, whose heartbreaking rendition of That’s What I Could Do was one of the most touching moments of the show.

Running for 100 minutes in total without an interval, Violet is slightly slow to start. The first moment that really captures the audience is On My Way, which shows off award winning writer Jeanine Tesori’s remarkable score for the first time. Other highlights include Lonely Stranger and Bring Me To Light. Combined with book and lyrics by Brian Crawley, Violet is a beautiful story of struggle, love, and above all hope. I would urge anyone to go and watch this wonderful show during its short run at the Charing Cross Theatre, this certainly is one not to miss.

Director: Shuntaro Fujita

Choreography: Cressida Carré

Set Design: Morgan Large

Musical Director: Dan Jackson

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