Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Legally Blonde Review

With an unlikely plot, a pastel-coloured set, and a surprisingly catchy score, this is a fluffy, fun-filled fairytale. Based on the 2001 film, Elle Woods is a naive fashion marketing major from Malibu who wins a place at Harvard Law School against the odds, with the intention to win back her schooldays sweetheart, Warner. At Harvard, she realises there’s more to life than chasing rainbows. While showing off her vast wardrobe of pink and navy pinstripe, she holds her own in the high powered shark-tank of law firms. It all sounds quite incredible. One must suspend reality to buy into the story (lawyers do not win cases thanks to their intimate knowledge of haircare), which renders any relevance to real world feminism a lost cause.


However, Susan McFadden’s Elle is the perfect fairytale heroine. Her moods are crystal clear, the swift changes written on her expressive face. She generates a collusion with the audience one cannot disregard. For all her ditz, glitz and misguided motivations, you can’t but like Elle Woods: she just wants a Happy Ever After on her own terms. Lee Mead, the ‘People’s Joseph’ 2007, has taken over the role of Emmett, a cute lawyer in a battered cordroy jacket. Unfortunately, he appears vapid next to vibrant Elle, though it is difficult to tell whether his blandness is due to the weakness of the characterisation, or Mead himself.

The catchy, upbeat songs will ring in your head for days. Lyricists Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin have transformed character catch-phrases, ‘Omigod, you guys!’ (Elle) ‘Chip on my shoulder’ (Emmet), ‘Blood in the water’ (Callahan) into a core of memorable songs. Character definition by musical theme works especially well with ‘Omigod’, which is refrained by other characters throughout, as they are softened by Elle’s appeal. Jerry Mitchell’s dynamic choreography carries the momentum of the show, particularly in the Riverdance and marching ‘Legally Blonde’ sequences, signalling the climax of the show.

Unsurprisingly, the audience was mainly women. There is some broad sexual innuendo, and a funny, risque song ‘Is he gay or European?’ which amuse adults, but would confuse younger viewers. If you allow yourself to be swept up in the gleeful, camp humour of this show, you will leave grinning. It is not profound, though it tries to be, but it is harmless, frivolous fun, perfect for a ladies night out, or a mother-daughter treat.

Legally Blonde is closing in April 2012, so hurry up to see it!

You can also read the Guardian's review here.

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