Your Obedient Servant #Hamilton

Down the years, absorbing the raft of artistic culture available in London: theatre, music, exhibitions, spoken word, comedy – I’ve worked out what I enjoy and what I find rather meah.

I don’t get dance. Ballet especially feels like I’m watching something that there’s a code to which I’ve not been given. Opera feels overblown, if it’s not comic. And musicals generally make me yearn for the play within, absent the songs.

So going to see Hamilton was something of a risk.

It’s also the strangest subject matter to cover in a musical with no dialogue that’s not sung. It’s not often you experience a constitutional conference debating the merits of different sorts of democracy in rap form, I’ll be bound. Or a sing off on the issue of neutrality in a war between Britain and France.

The hero of the piece is odd too. Of course one yearns for characters with depth, flawed individuals. Alexander Hamilton is certainly flawed. Arrogant, Smart arse. Adulterer. Happy to sacrifice the feelings of his wife to save his own legacy. Willing to encourage his son to partake in a duel. Politically duplicitous. Yep, there are echoes down the years here but I can’t say I warm to him. Maybe there’s a reason or ten in there why he’s the least celebrated Founding Father, as one song points out.

And, while my musicology is redolent of the fingers down the blackboard genre, I note there’s no one song that leaves you humming as you leave the theatre. A few lyrics, maybe but no whole song.

Yet… it’s extraordinary. The vast range and scale of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ambition is stunning. The story is pretty dry but he zips you along on a demelted riptide of crochets and quavers, bringing in humour to leven the serious subject matter. The choreography that could distract and become an irritation actually compliments the production – a rare example of dance enhancing the piece. And at the end you realise that it’s Hamilton’s wife who is the hero in this story in what she achieves after his death, which is a pleasant twist if true.

I didn’t buzz at the end. I certainly didn’t stand and stomp as some did. I find that a little strange frankly, having been brought up to believe applause suffices.

But I’m glad I went and I’d be happy to recommend you add it to your list if you’ve not seen it.

That said, I’ll not be going to other musicals in a hurry. I’ll quit while I’m ahead….

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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32 Responses to Your Obedient Servant #Hamilton

  1. You haven’t grabbed me, despite your excellent review

    Liked by 1 person

  2. M. L. Kappa says:

    I’m not a huge fan of musicals or opera, either, but there are always exceptions. As for dance, my last forray was to watch Carlos Acosta and his troupe of Cubans at the ancient Herodotus Atticus theatre in Athens, under a rising moon. Magic!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the review. I find theatre, especially musicals, hugely embarrassing and uncomfortable to watch! Well done for going and writing a pretty impartial review given that you don’t enjoy musicals either. It does sound quite innovative and perhaps people wanted something to whoop and cheer for.
    I enjoy some of the songs from West Side Story but the new film, with loads of whizzing camera work during the dance numbers and modern (sorry, crusty old bag here) way of singing, not hitting the notes straight off but sliding into them, would probably drive me bonkers.
    I think you confessed to liking The Carpenters? I saw a programme about Karen the other night and it was remarked that she did none of that ‘dancing around the note’ that singers do now!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. noelleg44 says:

    I do love musicals and over the years have delighted in many. Hamilton was a bit different but also very compelling – I was drawn into it. But you’re right – no memorable songs, like from Rent, or The Lion King, or Wicked. To each his own, though and you did a right job with your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Darlene says:

    Good for you for going to see this production. Hubby didn´t think he liked musicals until we went to Les Miserables. He was blown away.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. L.K. Latham says:

    Felt sad that I didn’t walk away humming a tune. I like musicals, and Hamilton was very well done. I enjoyed the music and dance, and I very much enjoyed the modern take on such an historical character. That said, I walked away with a “meh,” and a shoulder shrug. Glad I’m not the only one.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. joylennick says:

    Although my husband is an exception, I know of many British men who do not like, musicals, ballet and opera and wonder if it’s something to do with the `’British way’ of looking and feeling…about many things. They are definitely more restrained or uncomfortable in many areas (as being kissed on both cheeks, etc.,) They don’t seem to have the passion required for complete involvement. Or am I talking rubbish?! Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Oh I have huge passion, am v tactile, cry at Love Actually and the Repair Shop. But I like my passion based on a bit of reality like a good play, not someone dancing or bouncing into song. But we’re all different aren’t we!?

      Like

  8. Stomping in appreciation is yet one more Americanism we seem to have acquired, along with whooping. Sad!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Erika says:

    I love musicals (surprise since I am a singer who also sang (in) musicals) but I never heard of this one and therefore, I am glad for your review, Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. JT Twissel says:

    I think Miranda’s goal was to make the revolution understandable to young people. Our history books make the founding fathers out to be staid old men when they actually were not. At least all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      It’s a dynamic situation. We forget they had nothing to work on and trying to run a nation with no structure at Federal level must have been beyond complex.

      Like

  11. Interestingly, it has been a huge hit in Australia too. Not sure why – an affinity with American politics? Or pure entertainment value?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. petespringerauthor says:

    It sounds like we could hang out together, Geoff. I’ve never been much of a fan of ballet or opera. For me, they are only slightly more pleasant than a root canal. Yet, I also enjoyed Hamilton and the one time we attended a Broadway musical it was rather enjoyable. We like what we like, but I’m more prone to the unscripted excitement of a sporting event.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Widdershins says:

    I tried with Hamilton, I really did, but I couldn’t get past the very annoying rap … obviously not my cuppa tea. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  14. willowdot21 says:

    My son and his wife raved about Hamilton and event sent me a copy to watch….they went to London last month and watched it …. sorry sat through it at home and it left my cold…I was waiting for it to open up….no not for me and I love a good musical.💜

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Chel Owens says:

    I’ve yet to see it. I’m such a traditionalist I think I’d hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

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