I know very little about Evita; except for the monumental song by Madonna for the film of the same title; I’ve never, really had any interest in it either. But as my passion for the theatre grows, I find that I want to explore more productions that would usually pass me by blindly. Although this is a musical, a genre I most prefer when it comes to theatre, it is not a light-hearted or a family orientated show as the epitome of the term would suggest, not that I expected this to be of course. It is a musical more on the spectrum of operatic that is full of depth, power (in more ways than one) and one that will resonate with you for some time after. I personally, left the show wanting to know more about Eva Perón and could not help exploring this woman’s life on my journey home; something I’d encourage you to do also.
I found the show initially hard to follow because of the operatic style but the intrigue of the story draws you in; why, when Argentina appears to be mourning the loss of Eva, does the narrator seem to dislike her? The first half is quite explorative of the character and I found myself questioning the likeability of Eva Perón but by the second half, I was captivated. It is where the story really develops and we truly touch on who Eva Perón, Evita, is.
Based on the life events of Eva Perón from 1935 to her death in 1952, the themes explored are still prevalent today; human rights, influence of power and celebrity and relationships. Although we think we’ve seemingly come a long way in 70 years, this production, which has been running since 1978, illustrates we’ve not really come that far at all and in some ways, particularly more predominant in the last year, that we may in fact be going backwards. This is a more poignant reason to see this today, more than ever.
Evita is a seemingly controversial character from her ‘nothing will stand in my way’ attitude that sees her as the wild seductress making her way to the top of the most powerful in Argentina; her quite vengeful, though sometimes justifiably so, tactics to quash anyone that stands in her way; to the fragility of a young woman whose weak body defies her ambitions. It is Emma Hatton’s unfathomable approach to this prodigious character that is completely mesmerising; her voice is power and her rendition of the poignant ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ breath-taking. Though for me, it is Gian Marco Schiaretti as Chi our narrator, whose profile is meagre compared to the entire ensemble, which stole the show for me. His remarkable versatility, strong and undeniable presence is the seamless thread throughout the entire production that makes Evita what it is.
For political resonance, historical exploration, or to see one of the greatest cast ensembles I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, I would recommend you see Evita.
Images by Pamela Raith Photography
Evita is currently at the Phoenix Theatre in London.