There is a lot to be said about simplification, even in a metropolis as large and intricate as London. Restaurants and bars, like Oscar in Fitzrovia, are starting to shorten their menus and list of ingredients, relying on just a few quality components. Likewise, the kind of mega productions that were once the speciality of companies like Cirque du Soleil have morphed into a more tightly controlled experience and are actually benefiting from it. The epitome of elegant simplicity, however, has to be the iconic Motown record label. Auto worker Berry Gordy brought a production line approach to hit making that hasn’t been bettered. Quality control will get you results every time and Londoners knows quality when they see it.
Unicycle stunts, wire walking and some jaw dropping stunts using bamboo poles are all used to propel the narrative along. State-of-the-art lighting effects divide the circular stage into pools of scintillating action. More than three quarters of the cast are female and the result is a more lyrical programme that nevertheless contains more than its fair share of danger and drama.
London has its own slice of soulful magic in this joyous production. Skilful playing and great voices bring the songs to life and let them shine. Make no mistake – the songs themselves are what made Motown great. The suits are as sharp as the moves but the enduring memory of this production are the mini-masterpieces that speak of love, hope and endless dancing.
A selection of delicious bar snacks is available and the music is upbeat without being invasive. The crowd is made up of a mix of clever media types, tech gurus and discerning theatre goers. The parent hotel is part of the Firmdale group which specialises in just the type of luxurious urban enclave that attracts the hip and wealthy.
Hanks, who plays Captain Sullenberger, specialises in stoic all-American heroes who face danger with a mix of steely calm and gentle humour. Clint Eastwood, who seems to be entering some sort of directorial Indian summer, guides us through Sully’s character, background and motivation before taking us on a nail-biting denouement in the skies above New York City.