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Theatre Review: Identical at Nottingham Playhouse

3 August 22 words: Becki Crossley
photos: Pamela Raith

Looking for a fun family night out? Look no further...

Directed by Trevor Nunn, with such credits as Les Misérables, Starlight Express, Cats and Sunset Boulevard, and from the producer of Top Hat, The Play That Goes Wrong and Six, Identical is a musical romp bursting with youthful energy.

The story beats will be familiar to most thanks to the film adaptations from 1961 and 1998, but the details are based on the original novel by Erich Kästner. The separated at birth, life-swap situation provides plenty of opportunities for both humour and heart throughout, perfectly portrayed by both the adult cast and twins Eden and Emme Patrick, playing Lisa and Lottie.

Whether it’s a cheerful summer camp chorus (In the Summer), an emotional reunion (You’re My Sister) or a playful father-daughter moment (Making It Up As We Go Along), music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe include clever back-and-forths and enough quips to have the audience laughing along every time.

The title song, Identicalis a particularly emotional high point, performed beautifully by Emily Tierney as the twins’ mother Lisalottie. Tierney’s stunning vocals and the song’s mix of joy, confusion and regret leaves you with goosebumps.

Undeniably a perfect family treat, Identical boasts a talented cast and a story full of fun

As is often the case, the ‘antagonist’ is one of the most entertaining players; captivating to watch. Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson as Miss Gerlach is a stand-out performer as both a dancer and vocalist, introduced as a talented ballerina (The Hansel and Gretel Ballet) before going on to execute a truly impressive and powerful dream sequence (Take One or the Other). 

Staging by Robert Jones and video design by Douglas O’Connel also deserve a shoutout. Seamlessly blending from a German mountaintop to a street in Vienna and more, the backdrop is as alive as the performers and keeps pace with the switching storylines. As the plot speeds up the swaps between the two girls’ lives get quicker and more impressively-executed, leaving you wanting more from each side every time but equally pleased to be returning to the other twin. 

Undeniably a perfect family treat, Identical boasts a talented cast and a story full of fun, emotion and songs that had audience members whistling along as they left the theatre.

Identical is showing at the Nottingham Playhouse until Sunday 14th August. Tickets are available online

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