Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Glinting on the Surface but Lacking Real Depth

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Glinting on the Surface but Lacking Real Depth

Article excerpt

Byline: HENRY HITCHINGS

SOUTH PACIFIC Barbican THIS production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical won seven Tony Awards when it ran at New York's Lincoln Center.

Arriving here with just two of the original cast, it seems polished rather than dazzling -- lyrical, occasionally beguiling but not truly powerful.

Fresh from EastEnders, Samantha Womack is Nellie Forbush, a nurse from Arkansas who finds herself on an exotic island. Against the backdrop of the Second World War, she falls for French exile Emile de Becque. Trouble is, she's a racist and he has two half-Polynesian children.

Their tensions still resonate today and director Bartlett Sher makes a case for the musical's importance as a historical document.

Yet while there is a potentially intriguing story about prejudice and identity, the central romance does not convince. Nellie and Emile appear to be an unlikely couple.

She is unsophisticated, whereas he appears to be bookish and enigmatic. …

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