REVIEW: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN
By Karla Williams
Monday, November 2, 2009.
Fast forwarding the story from it’s 19th century origins to the 1940s, Annie Get Your Gun tells the story of Annie Oakley, an un-sophisticated small town girl with the ability to shoot the wings off a fly. When Buffalo Bill (played by Chucky Venn) and his travelling show come to town, Annie is pitted against Frank Butler, the sharpest shooter in all of America.
But womaniser Frank has met his match in more ways than one, and while he losses for the first time, he also meets the love of his life. Realising an opportunity to make some money, Bill enlists Annie into the show and accompanied by her friend Jessie, the pair go on the road. Annie quickly becomes the main attraction, and with his ego severely dented, Frank leaves to join arrival troupe led by Pawnee Bill.
Can Annie win back the man of her dreams without sacrificing who she is and will Frank ever be able share his most beloved spotlight?
Designer Ultz has completely transformed the space at the Young Vic; the detailed and ingeniously designed set fits the production perfectly. And Richard Jones as production director has created an engaging, enjoyable and often-comical musical that doesn’t take itself too seriously, as it moves seamlessly through various locations and times. This is done in part, by the use of a video montage at the beginning of each act; the second of which details Annie’s adventures as she meets leaders from around the world.
The rail journey parts of the play is tinged with good humour as a moving conveyer belt suspended mid-air convincingly depicts the mountains and trees rushing past outside. Watch out for the scene where Annie performs her show stopping routine. It is fantastically accomplished as the audience is left watching the reactions of Buffalo Bill and the audience - rather than the routine itself.
Featuring an outstanding ensemble, the exceptional stars of the night have to be Jane Horrocks as Annie and John Marques as Charlie. Horrocks captures the naive, determined and ambitious nature of Annie well, creating an empathetic but still entertaining-to-watch character. Marques is just faultless in his performance as Charlie and plays Buffalo Bill’s right hand-man brilliantly.
Playing at the Young Vic until January 2010 Annie Get Your Gun is an all-singing, all-dancing good old fashioned musical that will make a great night out for the whole family. With recognisable songs such as There’s no Business like Show Business and Anything you Can Do I Can Do Better, you’ll be humming these tunes for days afterwards.
Annie Get Your Gun
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Directed by Richard Jones
Young Vic Theatre [0207 922 2922]
until 2nd January 2010
For more info or to book tickets please call the box office on 0207 922 2922 or visit www.youngvic.org
Image: Keith Pattison
Karla Williams is a London-based journalist and writer.