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Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown

Published 13 January 2015

What’s it all about?

A group of neurotic females whose problems range from cheating lovers and estranged husbands to sleeping with terrorists, and for whom valium is the answer to everything.

Sounds familiar? It should. This is the highly anticipated musical adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar’s 1988 film about… well… nothing sums it up better than the title.

Who’s in it?

Olivier Award winner Tamsin Greig will undoubtedly be in line for another of London theatre’s prized accolades after making her musical theatre debut in this gag-filled production. The Episodes actress perfects every bewildered look and floundering movement as Pepa, a woman whose life is thrown into disarray when she finds herself deserted by her lover. Her comic timing is undeniable but what of her vocal talent? Greig’s voice is at its best during the musical’s melancholic numbers, particularly the nostalgia-tinged Island and Mother’s Day.

As the title might suggest, the Green Wing star is surrounded by a host of equally talented females, each one capturing the personality of their part with panache. Haydn Gwynne is exceptional as the bitter and unhinged wife of Pepa’s elusive lover Ivan and delivers a particularly powerful performance of the ode to ageing women, Invisible. Elsewhere Anna Skellern is suitably hysterical as the scatter-brained model who unwittingly falls into bed with Spain’s most wanted.

In the spirit of gender equality, Ricardo Afonso certainly deserves a mention as the stand-out male performer who, never far from his guitar, offers pitch perfect delivery throughout.

What should I look out for?

Anthony Ward’s simple yet effective two-storey set, which turns from the inside of a taxi to a fully furnished Spanish apartment in seconds.

And Greig. Always Greig.

What will I be humming?

There are several gems in David Yazbek’s eclectic score. Among them are Island, My Crazy Heart, Invisible and The View From Here, but when it comes to Skellern’s rendition of Model Behaviour, never mind humming, you’ll be too busy stopping your sides from splitting.

In a nutshell?

Comedy musicals don’t get much better than this – and neither does Tamsin Greig – as the Green Wing star takes to the stage in Bartlett Sher’s hilarious take on Pedro Almodóvar’s hit 1998 film.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@econbuttonwood Loved “Women on the Verge” at the playhouse last night. Mind you, I’d pay to see Tamsin Greig read the shipping forecast

@nickygayner @PlayhouseTheatr @WomenVergeUK . Fresh, frenetic & fabulous! Loved it. @TamsinGreig magnificent, as were all the cast.

Will I like it?

There couldn’t be a better time for this uplifting and entertaining musical to arrive in the West End. If you’re looking for a show-shaped tonic to help you banish those post-Christmas blues, this production – despite its poignant moments – will have audiences leaving the Playhouse Theatre every night with a wide satisfied grin.

Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is booking at the Playhouse Theatre until 9 May. You can book tickets through us or, for performances until 13 February, through our discount ticket promotion Get Into London Theatre.


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