CD Review: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2015 Original West End Cast Recording)

“I’m halfway up a tree and completely in a jam.
I’m out here in a desert and nobody gives a damn”

After the abortive first run on Broadway, dubbed “a very expensive out-of-town try-out” by composer David Yazbek, a reconceived version of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown made its way to the West End in early 2015 but it only managed the same 4 months of a run there before closing in ignominy once again. Some things just aren’t meant to be it would seem.

I saw the show at the Playhouse and saw first-hand how ill-conceived this reconceived conception was and listening back to the score, you’re just reminded of how very random the whole thing is. At times, it seems on the verge of working – the manic patter of ‘Model Behavior’ is well delivered by Anna Skellern and Haydn Gwynne brings her customary class to Lucia and her lament to ageing in ‘Invisible’. 

But casting Tamsin Greig in the lead role of Pepa just highlights the fact that she’s not the most accomplished of singers in a musical that desperately needed to be elevated by star performances. The number of time her vocal is beefed up by the company chipping in is embarrassing and you do wonder whether it is actually beyond redemption – full marks for trying though.

The score has been fiddled with ‘Time Stood Still’ and ‘The Microphone’ were swapped out for new songs ‘It’s Me’ and ‘The View From Here’, the new finale but make no mistake, this is simply rearranging the chairs on the Titanic – it isn’t the order of the songs of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown that’s the problem, it’s the songs themselves.

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