Les Miserables

Tonight we saw _Les Miserables_ in the West End, my third live viewing of the show. The performance was technically excellent — the actors hit their marks, their notes, and their lines. What they didn’t hit was the emotions. The innkeeping duo was flat, as was the boring portrayal of Javert, the rebel leader seemed like he was putting on a show of his own, and Eponine was just completely off the wall in her scene with Marius at the barricade, seeming more like a obsessed crazy serial killer than a sweet, misguided young girl. In contrast, Gavrosh was great, Valjean did fine, and Fontine was fairly captivating. There were some interesting lighting and set decisions that I really liked. The rest of the cast was hit-or-miss, with some of the ensemble doing a perfectly good job and others overacting in awful ways. At the barricade, the attempts at battle felt very half-hearted, with some actors (including he who played Valjean) really not selling the whole load, aim, and shoot sequence. They were treating it more like a tea break than a battle to the death.

The crappy sound levels were a major detractor from overall enjoyment of the show. _Les Mis_ is difficult enough to understand even when you *can* make out the words. The producers would do well to chuck the sound engineer in favor of someone with a normal sense of hearing. They’d also do well to provide a free program note explaining the story, rather than only giving the explanation to those who will pony up the £3 or £5 necessary for a real program.