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A CurtainUp London Review
Ghost Quartet

"1001 stories and every one of them a lie."
— Scheherazade
Ghost Quartet
Carly Bowden and Malmuna Memon
(Photo: Marc Brennan)
The Boulevard Theatre in the heart of Soho occupies the space where once Paul Raymond's Revuebar's smaller venue called variously "Elle et Lui" and "Boulevard" once hosted plays and erotica. The new Boulevard is a small, intimate circular space which will be ideal for cabaret and music.

The show they have chosen to open this theatre is a melange of song and storytelling by four actor musicians. It is deliberately complex to follow and the whole struck me as more of a musical divertissement, something a Victorian crowd would gather to listen to in style although maybe not in content.

It is fairly static as the musicians are seated at their instrumental base, Zubin Varla on piano, Carly Bowden on violin, Niccolo Curradi on cello and Malmuna Memom initially on drums. The centre of the round stage is decorated with old leather luggage and a collection of props referred to in the stories.

Malmuna Menon's drumming is very loud especially when you are, as I was, two feet from the drum kit. Her strong alto and fixed gaze reminded me of the style of the Tiger Lilies as she created a sinister atmosphere. She must play about ten different instruments throughout the piece as well as singing although her final instrument a plastic keyboard with a white hose and black mouthpiece did not seem to complement but the discordance interfered with Carly Bowden's sweet voice in "The Wind and the Rain".

The show claims to be presented something like a concept album in four parts but the scenes not in a linear order or clear time frame. Some of the scenes are taken from Edgar Allen Poe's short story The Fall of the House of Usher. The story is circular and more atmosphere driven than by its narrative and episodic. There is a tribute to Thelonius Monk included.

There is the distribution of a very small whisky to a few chosen members of the audience which enlivens proceedings temporarily. The play draws to a close by involving audience members in playing some of the instruments themselves.

I think this very small and luxurious space could be very exciting dramatically if putting on plays like the studio space Found 111 which was at the top of the old St Martin's School of Art and was redeveloped sadly only too quickly. Ghost Quartet was sadly rather too esoteric for my taste but I look forward to seeing other productions here.

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Ghost Quartet
Writer and Composer: Dave Malloy
Directed by Bill Buckhurst
Starring: Rubin Varla, Carly Bowden, Malmuna Memon, Nicccolo Curradi
Musical Director and supervisor: Benjamin Cox
Designer: Simon Kenny
Movement Director: Georgina Lamb
Lighting Design: Emma Chapman
Sound Designer: David Gregory
Running time: One hour 30 minutes without an interval
Box Office:
Booking to 4th January 2020
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 2nd November 2019 at the Boulevard Theatre, 6 Walkers Court Soho, London W1F 0BT (Tube: Piccadilly Circus. Easiest to find if you walk straight up Rupert Street to the alleyway.)
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