Comeback! Karl Marx the Musical, theatre review: ‘Unusual but good fun’

Ensemble performing Comeback! Karl Marx the Musical. Picture: Peter Awtukowitsch

Ensemble performing Comeback! Karl Marx the Musical. Picture: Peter Awtukowitsch - Credit: Archant

Comeback! is described in the programme as “funnier than the Communist Manifesto” and “more romantic that Das Kapital”.

It is, in fact, a musical comedy with a hard political/satirical edge and very topical, being shown over the mayoral elections and dealing with Manfred Acreman, the very dodgy owner of Pickpocket Bank played by rock musician Tim Thomas.

It shows in no uncertain way its German origins. From the first glimpse of the ‘sirens’ in black fringed S&M gear, there is a feeling of un-Englishness about it.

At first, we are confused by the stylised acting performances by the cartoon type characters with names like Mrs. Abroomowitch and Mortimer Pickledigger (very funnily played by veteran actor and Highgate favourite Brian Hands).

But the whole idea falls into place at the appearance of the wondrously costumed Harry Meacher as Rasputin Mammonson – a devilish character on the search for souls – and Acreman’s pretty daughter, Jenny.

From that moment on we become involved in the idiotic situations and sympathise with the general intellectual silliness of the piece.

The only two people who are not completely bonkers are the young lovers. Jenny is involved with a young poverty-stricken musician who lives in Highgate Cemetery behind the tomb of Karl Marx.

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This is a sweet, typical love story complete with pretty songs and romantic misunderstandings.

Direction is by Harry Meacher who reproduces the German style perfectly, using an international company of actors. Choreography is by ‘siren’ Paula Brett with music and musical direction provided by Gon Von Zola on Guitars, Bass and keyboards. Costumes by Andy McRobb.

Much of the action revloves around Sonja Zander’s stunning reproduction of the Karl Marx memorial in nearby Highgate Cemetery.

Unusual but good fun.

Comeback! Karl Marx the Musical is at Upstairs at the Gatehouse until May 14.

Rating: 4/5 stars.