Music by James McConnel; Lyrics by Kit Hesketh-Harvey; Book by Stephen Clark & Kit Hesketh-Harvey Dir: Ian Brown - Jumeira Productions at the Bridewell Theatre

'Ra-ra-Rasputin, Russia's Greatest Love-Machine', the marvellous BoneyM track doesn't feature in this diligent telling of the Mad Monk's story: a minor shortcoming because all this show needs is a sense of humour (a surprise, considering co-author Kit Hesketh-Harvey forms half of the country's most amusing music act). Rasputin takes itself seriously and wants to be in the West End, modelling itself on the LesMis/Guerre format and nicking ideas from Cabaret.

But whatever it lacks in originality and subtlety the cast make up for with enthusiasm. Stupendous performances from Gay Soper as Tsarina and Hal Fowler as Prince Felix redeem the spectacle and Jerome Pradon as Rasputin is surely no more than a bus stop away from Stardom.

Half the price of LesMis, a tenth of the size; and twice as interesting.

  December 1998
London This Week