Mamma Mia! @ Playhouse, Edinburgh

Phyllida Lloyd's new production of the classic musical is infectiously fun and feisty

Live Review by Elaine Reid | 25 Sep 2019
  • Mamma Mia! @ Edinburgh Playhouse

As the curtain rises on Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus’ Mamma Mia!, an enticing introductory mega-mix of Abba’s unmistakable, timeless and infectious songs fills the auditorium. Mamma Mia! started life at the Prince Edward Theatre in April 1999 before taking its Greek adventure to the world, touring as far afield as Korea, Australia and Russia. Meanwhile on the big screen, 2008's movie version also has an impressive pedigree, with its position as the highest worldwide grossing live-action musical film of all time.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, the production begins with the lead up to Sophie Sheridan’s wedding. Sophie (Emma Mullen) has grown up on a Greek island with her mother, Donna (Sharon Sexton) and after recently discovering the diary her mother kept in the year before her birth, has invited her three possible fathers to her wedding.

While the addition of the three potential papas to the party is the ignition for the ensuing chaos, the spark in this tale lies in the strength of the mother-daughter bond between Sophie and Donna, and the enduring friendship between Donna and her dynamo bandmates, Tanya (Helen Anker) and Rosie (Nicky Swift).

Amidst the show’s sterling cast the leading ladies steal the show as well as command the story. The vocal talents of Mullen are impressive, and Sexton delivers a standout performance that particularly shines during her arresting, emotional rendition of The Winner Takes It All. Meanwhile Anker and Swift inject fun, frolics and feistiness into their performances of Does Your Mother Know? and Take a Chance on Me.

With a rather limited revolving set, the attention of the audience is firmly transfixed by the music and talented choreography courtesy of Anthony Van Laast, which sees the strong ensemble add to the infectious pace of the performance. From popping out from behind walls dancing expertly on their hands with flippers on their feet, to creating a hen night disco party atmosphere under the stars, the energetic cast draws the audience to its feet by the finale. And despite an encore of three extra songs, this particular Greek feast leaves the audience hungry for more.

Mamma Mia!, Edinburgh Playhouse, until 28 Sep