Poetic, powerful and important, the sensational Les Misérables is back at Birmingham Hippodrome. Dramatising a compelling story of revolution and resistance, Les Mis has captured the hearts of musical fans for decades and it’s safe to say Cameron Mackintosh’s take is no different.
Based on the historical novel by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables details the turbulent tale of prisoner Jean Valjean (brought to life by the talented Dean Chisnall) who, after 19 years, is given the chance of freedom. However, embittered by years of corruption and cruelty, it isn’t until the Bishop of Digne (portrayed by Rick Zwart) shows him empathy that he decides to start his life anew.
As the play progresses, we watch as Jean’s new life intertwines with Fantine (played by the incredible Rachelle Ann Go) a strong-willed woman tied down by the chains of hierarchy and class. Desperate to support her illegitimate daughter, Fantine is forced to sell her locket, her hair and eventually her body – a reality that is too often missed from history books. Degraded and debased, Fantine’s life intercepts with Jean Valjean’s resulting in Jean promising to protect her daughter.
Through the linguistics of song, the audience watch this heart-breaking tale unfold, as Jean finds Cosette – Fantine’s daughter, played by the wonderful Rogue Allen (and later Paige Blankson) – living a life of abuse and hardship, and takes her away to Paris. After a time jump, we are transported into a world of political instability, as the subtle murmurs of revolution begin to overwhelm the story.
Not only were the cast impeccably talented, the production team helped curate the masterpiece that was this performance. From perfectly executed lighting and projections (Andy Christie and Tom Howard) to achingly beautiful costumes (Lucy Fairbrother and Hayley Kent), this musical is as mesmerising as it is important. Whether it’s the painfully relevant discussions of class, or empowering portrayals of the proletariat during the French Revolution, Les Misérables is a definitely must watch.