Sunset Boulevard is the musical written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber based on the film by Billy Wilder which focuses on the fading silent movie star Norma Desmond. It is a moving story of vanity and mental health. In this version Glenn Close takes on Norma and her famous song's such as 'with one look'. Close played Norma on Broadway over 20 years ago and is still powerfully moving here in her West End debut.
I saw a superb version produced by the Watermill theatre several years ago but this version has the advantage of having the full ENO orchestra behind it. Instead of being in the pit the orchestra are sat behind the frame work of the set right on the stage. Michael Xavier's Joe really builds throughout from humility to utter arrogance. At times one finds one self split between seeing these characters as utterly self involved and vain or empathising with their artistic dilemmas.
Norma's story and that of her long supporting (or enabling) Max (superbly played by Fred Johanson) is the most moving part of the show and despite one moment that I felt that was missed between the two of them, it is a moving production. One gripe that I did have was the bizarre use (or rather under-use) of a manikin of Joe suspended in the air that seemed oddly unnecessary.
The orchestra almost stole the show and Glenn Close did a great job with the songs but as one would expect it was her superb acting and the choices that she made on stage that shone through.