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REVIEW: Evita at the Wycombe Swan

Evita is at the Wycombe Swan until Saturday, October 27

Cheryl Chapman

Cheryl Chapman

REVIEW: Evita at the Wycombe Swan

Some 60 years after the death of Argentina’s first lady Eva Peron, and an incredible 40 years since the Andrew Lloyd Webber sell-out musical came to life, this restaging of Evita still resonates today, with its themes of political unrest and female empowerment.

Evita is based on the true story of a young woman’s rise from poverty to power. Thought of as a saint by her supporters but a power-hungry tart by others, Peron is powerfully played by Lucy O’Byrne, who takes Eva from plucky teen to Santa Evita to a woman ravaged by illness in just a few hours. And her voice, oh my goodness, it made me shiver... The famous balcony scene where she delivers ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ will be with me forever.

Narrating the story is the wickedly cynical Che (Glenn Carter) who critically guides us through Argentina’s political unrest and the rise and fall of the Perons. Mike Sterling lends gravitas as Juan Peron, and kudos also to Cristina Hoey who plays Peron’s mistress, cruelly thrown out of the bedroom by Eva – her rendition of Another Suitcase in Another Hall is an ode to anyone spurned.

Yet it is the final scenes, when Eva is on the brink of succumbing to cancer at 33, which broke me.  Free of her diamonds and her Christian Dior, dressed only in a slip of a nightdress and ravaged by illness, O’Byrne gives her most heart wrenching performance showing Eva’s vulnerability.

The secret to the show’s long-running success lies in the incredible score alongside Tim Rice’s biting lyrics which years after it was written have stood the test of time.

The set too is refreshingly sparse –  a handful of chairs, doors and beds and of course THAT balcony.

This is a real treat of a show - professional, slick and emotive. Don’t miss it.

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