A band of musicians find themselves in completely the wrong place due to an unfortunate mix up in The Band’s Visit. The Donmar Warehouse plays host to the European Premiere of this 10-time Tony and Grammy winning musical. This is the smallest venue that has staged this show, and it fits the musicals intimate vibe perfectly.
From the get go it makes no illusions of this being a mesmerising story. At the start of the show a screen at the back of the stage says;
“Once, not long ago, a group of musicians came to Israel from Egypt. You probably didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t very important.”
Whilst this manages expectations, this is unfortunately the shows downfall. Being 1hour 40minutes straight through, to succeed it needs to be gripping, compelling and moving. Whilst it is none of these things, it is still utterly charming.
The simple humour works well, and I enjoyed the dryness of it. This was at its best towards the beginning when the band first find themselves in the wrong location. Unfortunately, for me, this wasn’t enough to carry the show. I would have liked to have been more pulled into the characters stories, which aren’t developed enough to be fully engaging. Although different in many aspects, Come From Away does this superbly in a similar length show, which follows characters finding themselves in a place foreign to them (admittedly in very different circumstances).
David Yazbek’s music however is absolutely wonderful and is what makes this show. Miri Mesika was outstanding as Dina; it was a pleasure to listen to her sing. Her rendition of ‘Omar Sherif’ was a highlight of the show, which you can also enjoy in the below video. Her voice was beautiful, and I would have loved to have heard more of it. The ultimate highlight however came with the band performing a mini concert at the end. This really brought the Donmar to life, with the audience lapping up every note played.
All in all, I am glad that I caught this as part of a very hectic week of shows in London. I will absolutely be listening to a lot of the music again, even if that alone isn’t enough to make me want to rewatch the show itself.