(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/23.)
Has anyone thought of using surtitles in musicals? I ask because the one flaw in this highly skilled revival of the 1978 Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice show is the lack of attention to vocal detail. We lose many of the heavily amplified words, and that matters in a musical that rests on its ambivalent attitude towards its protagonist.
The danger with Evita is that it can easily seem like an apologia for its heroine. As we follow the rise of Eva Duarte from ambitious teenager to wife of Argentina’s President Juan Perón, we are constantly reminded of her charisma, ability to work a crowd and capacity to get things done such as the enfranchisement of women. But Eva Perón was also a vital part of a military dictatorship that crushed opposition, closed down newspapers and bankrupted the country. All this is recorded in Rice’s lyrics, mainly through the choric figure of Che, but the facts about Eva can easily get lost in the idea of her as a sanctified populist.