– Chantelle Pitt
Basin Street Blues is a jazz musical set in a brothel in New Orleans during 1917. Narrated by piano player Tony (Toby Millar), Basin Street tells the stories of the occupants of The Rising Sun sporting house. It focuses mainly on prostitute Pearl (Kylie Isaia).
Directed by accomplished director Aarne Neeme, Basin Street Blues is Marloo Theatre’s third production of 2015. I had heard a lot of hype for this production over the past few weeks and the phrase ‘world premiere’ was used quite a lot. Although it was an enjoyable night out at the theatre, I was disappointed by the end result in comparison with what I had expected.
Kylie Isaia as Pearl gave a stand out performance from her dancing to her acting. Kylie perfectly rounds out the character of Pearl. She was thoroughly believable and likeable. A live band is incorporated into the set, strategically placed behind Tony’s piano and dressed in appropriate costumes to blend in with the time period. Unfortunately the volume of the music drowned out the actors during their musical numbers which made it difficult for me to understand lyrics and dialogue.
I couldn’t actually tell you what the plot of this play is, because I couldn’t find one; a seemingly linear structure that became simply confusing. From what I could see there was no character development nor acceptable resolution. Each character; Tony, Pearl, Lottie, Rita, The Mayor, Wash, the customers or the girls, appeared to stay exactly the same from beginning to end. I found it disappointing that the beginning was understandable and the conflict was clear but no sustainable resolution appeared. This left me feeling empty and disappointed and was a void that no musical number could fill.
Frankly, what this production lacks in a clear definition of a storyline, it makes up for in set construction and design. The set furnishings and costumes of characters was truly the highlight of the evening. As soon as the curtains opened, I felt like I had happened upon a fully furbished and operational sporting house as every detail was thought of and applied professionally.
If you are a fan of musicals and ragtime, I recommend you book tickets for Basin Street Blues.
WARNING: This production includes sexual references. Not suitable for patrons under 15 years.
Basin Street Blues plays at Marloo Theatre, Greenmount until the 8th of August. Bookings can be made via www.trybooking.com/HKLR or via 92551783 during business hours.
Image credit Marloo Theatre.