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Here Lies Love

Published October 14, 2014

What’s it all about?

Welcome to the National Theatre’s newly opened Dorfman Theatre or, as it’ll be known until January, Club Millennium: an acid bright, exhilarating party where the conventions of theatre are replaced by giant mirror balls, pulsating disco music and strobe lighting.

Wear your dance shoes and take your place on the club floor or play the observer from your seat in the gallery above and witness the rise of Imelda Marcos from poor country girl to political player as told through the art of disco by Talking Heads’ David Byrne and DJ Fatboy Slim.

This is a woman with more than a touch of the case of the Eva Perón; as we sing and dance through the years Imelda’s hair gets more lacquered, her walk becomes more of a glide and her shoulder pads rise ever higher as the changing political landscape and her tempestuous marriage to President Ferdinand Marcos plays out.

Who’s in it?

An exuberant company of around 20 performers who shimmy, shake, hustle and bump – often encouraging the audience to do the same – in this karaoke-inspired sung-through musical extravaganza.

As the Filipino beauty queen turned controversial national icon, Natalie Mendoza sparkles, radiates and exudes both style and terrifying ambition – cutting faces from magazines and replacing them with your own is surely not how all teenagers spend their time… – in the role of Imelda, a woman dripping in excess and, later, grotesque desperation to be loved by the people she so vehemently fled from.

Dean John-Wilson channels the best of boy band chic as Imelda’s first love and later political rival Ninoy Aquino – his first number comes complete with cheesy choreography and co-ordinating coloured skinny jeans – while a swaggering Mark Bautista is outstanding as the charismatic President.

What should I look out for?

A musical like no other, look out for all aspects of disco, from cheese to melodrama, finding their place in a soundtrack that will still be ringing in your ears the next morning. Look out for infectious dance moves and the pink boiler suit-clad ushers who make Bowie look boring.

Real-life footage mixed with Justin Townsend’s dazzling lighting and Clint Ramos’ decedent costumes will make you feel as if you’ve been immersed in a 90-minute long music video.

In a nutshell?

An explosion of acid bright colour, luscious design, infectious choreography and blinding strobe lighting; Here Lies Love is a musical theatre experience with a winning decadent disco twist.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@itsellielook 140 characters is not enough to explain how amazingly brilliant Here Lies Love was

@lib_thinks Hurrah for the Dorfman’s disco launch! HERE LIES LOVE: the Imelda Marcos saga, moving and liberating.

Will I like it?

If Ziggy Stardust is your thing, Studio 54 your fantasy party and metallic lamé a wardrobe staple, then this is your theatrical gold. Unashamedly fun, Here Lies Love will have audiences throwing their hands in the air like they just don’t care night after night. While the political storyline might be slightly thin on the ground, read up ahead of the show then say goodbye to real life for an hour and a half and lose yourself to Here Lies Love’s glittering allure.

Here Lies Love is playing until 8 January at the National Theatre Dorfman. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.

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