Blazing onto the scene in Charing Cross Theatre, the mysterious hero of the hour (or 2.5) evokes his sizzling spirit in Zorro- a fast paced fiesta of a musical. Directed by Christian Durham, this fiery show has its predictable plot to reveal the man behind the mask. However, it packs in the stereotypes, in conjunction with a bit of fun in elements not taken too seriously, thus losing focus, and not always seeming to know what it's after.
Sent away to Spain as a young boy, depicted using puppetry, Diego, played passionately by Benjamin Purkiss, is determined to contradict his father's wishes of becoming a leader as he turns to partying and finds his happiness by making Gypsy friends. Once brought back to California in 1805 however, it became his mission to battle for justice against his tyrant older brother, Ramón (Alex Gibson-Giorgio), as the lives of the civilians, as well as those he loves, are at stake.
Featuring music by The Gipsy Kings, the talented musicians truly bring to life the flamenco style score with castanets (by Ajjaz Awad) guaranteeing to encompass the vibrancy of the culture. Although not lyrically memorable, there is no doubt that the tracks will get your feet tapping along, while feeling compelled by the accompanying choreography by Cressida Carré, which is consistently conducted with prowess. A series of flamboyant costumes by Rosa Maggiora complement this in several electrifying scenes. Impressively coordinated stage fights, directed by Renny Krupinski, bring excitement, and overall it seems as if Zorro is made for a theatre like this in terms of navigating the whole space well.
With the attempt at Spanish accents throughout that occasionally fall flat, the admirable vocals ensure to make up for this. Particularly the leading ladies- Paige Fenlon as Luisa, and Jessica Pardoe as Inez- give accomplished renditions, and along with the others, consistently show female power, despite the traditionalism of the gender roles in the narrative. Additionally, larger group pieces such as 'Baila Me' and 'Djobi Djoba' hold impact. Marc Pickering also has a notable performance as Sergeant García, with his comedic character that brings light relief to such a tension fuelled plot.
From before the show begins, the audience are treated to a vibrant display of Spanish infused party atmosphere with the whole cast involved. The highlighting moment is at the end of the first act, when the hit 'Bamboleo' brings everyone together, prior to fire and swords colliding as a conclusion for the moment. However, the somewhat complex tale does appear to have a confused motive long term, and becomes a little exhaustive and repetitive at times during the second act as the sparks die out.
While certainly being unlike anything else on the West End, Zorro is a fine source of escapism through its swordplay, masks and flames, though it does miss the mark with the storytelling.