THEATRE REVIEW: Bach & Sons starring Simon Russell Beale at the Bridge Theatre


WHEN?: Friday 25 June, opens 29 June and booking to 11 September 2021

RUNTIME: 150 minutes with 20-minute interval

It’s easy to forget the power of theatre to move its audience and that thought is foremost in our mind as we leave this venue fellow theatregoers clearly wiping tears from their eyes.

  • Read on for reasons including why a gay audience will find a resonance in the story of Frederick The Great here

Nina Raine’s emotional play is about the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach who was born into a musical family in 1685 and the strength of this work is very much about children striving for the love and approval of their parents.

If that all sounds rather serious, Simon Russell Beale’s (A Christmas Carol, Bridge Theatre) Bach is hugely funny, as well as being rude, and headstrong in his devotion to music which his family struggle to live up to.

It also begins like the most fun music theory listen you’ll ever get which will surely prove popular with lovers of classical music.

There’s a strong connection between Bach and his drunken son Wilhelm with Dougie McMeekin giving an engaging performance.

Younger son Carl (Samuel Blenkin) has an intense relationship with Pravessh Rana’s Frederick The Great and it is this parental counterpoint which gives a devastating sense of what it might have been like to have been gay at the time and not being accepted by one’s father.

There are also moving meditations on a yearning for children that is not fulfilled because of physical limitations and it was at this point where we felt a deep audience appreciation of the theme expressed.

The performance was given to a socially distanced public in masks and the Bridge’s seating flexibility means it is particularly well-suited to putting on performances in such circumstances but it is a big venue and sometimes the intimacy of the piece felt a little lost without a full audience.

It’s well worth seeing here but we can also see it transferring to the West End with the success of something like Farinelli and The King which lost none of its ability to enchant despite a switch to a different location.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Bridge Theatre
  • Have you seen any of this show? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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