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Dubbed as the new ‘Six’, Cake: The Marie Antoinette PLAYlist has hit Norwich Playhouse this week and I couldn’t wait to see what it was all about.
About the show
Cake: The Marie Antoinette PLAYlist combines a multi-genre pop score with 18th century France to retell a story that sparked a revolution. When Marie Antoinette married King Louis, her reputation was already tarnished by gossip. But when she is implicated in a crime to defraud the crown jewellers of a diamond necklace, it is not just her reputation at stake, but the monarchy and France itself.
Casting will include, fresh from her magical run as Mary Poppins on the West End, Zizi Strallen (she/her) stars as Marie Antoinette, with Renée Lamb (she/her), Catherine of Aragon from the original cast of SIX, starring as Jeanne.
Cake was originally commissioned by Paul Taylor-Mills (Heathers & In the Heights) and promises to re-define our expectations of what a musical can be.
What did we think?
When a show gets called ‘the new’ anything, it has quite a lot to live up to. With Cake, I didn’t really know much about it beforehand so that meant it had even more to prove for me. What I wasn’t ready for though was just how much I was going to love this show.
Set in 18th century France, Jeanne is poor and doesn’t really have a lot going for her, while Marie Antoinette seems to have everything she could ever want. In order to try and change her life, Jeanne comes up with a plan to befriend Marie and get rich at the same time. It doesn’t really work out that way though!
Cake is a show with only 6 cast members, no real set changes and minimal changes with costumes. You’d think it would be a bit simplistic, plain maybe but it’s far from those things. Cake packs a real punch and lets the stars of the show shine.
Renée Lamb as Jeanne and Zizi Strallen as Marie Antoinette are such a power duo. With voices that compliment each other, their characters bounce off of each other so well. One a bit harder and real, and one a bit delusional but hilarious with is. Cake is only 70 minutes long and I could have easily watched these two on stage for another hour.
Strallen’s Marie Antoinette was just phenomenal. Playing the Queen of France, she’s supposed to be ‘better’ than everyone else and she really makes you believe that you could be a piece of dirt on her shoe. There’s a bit of an airhead feeling to her, caring more about her looks and beauty than anything else but she’s absolutely hilarious with it. Jeanne, on the other hand, is real and raw and tells it how it is. There’s quite a lot of swearing throughout this show so it’s definitely not one for a younger audience.
With a minimalistic set, Cake relies on the music and lights to set the scene throughout. From a darkened meeting at 4am, to a wild night in the club, Cake gets this just right. The soundtrack is a fantastic mix of pop with a bit of hip hop thrown in. One minute you’re getting down and dirty and the next it feels like you’re at a ballet.
Although only 6 people in the show, Cake does have a fantastically diverse cast, including all shapes and sizes. There might be two ‘main’ characters but I think every person in this show excelled. The singing and dancing were outstanding from everyone and it was nice to see that everyone really got a moment of their own.
John said it’s one of the best things he’s ever seen on the stage and I have to agree with him. Sadly, Norwich is the last location for Cake and I hope it goes out again soon!