Featured image- The cast of ‘Assassins’. Production  photos by Phil Erbacher.

The great American composer likes to explore, at times.  very dark  subjects. Take Sweeney Todd, his play about a serial killing barber. Or his 1990 play ASSASSINS which the Hayes Theatre Company is currently reviving in a production directed by Dean Bryant.

ASSASSINS takes place in a fairground shooting gallery, where a group of misfits gather. Each has a problem they need to solve and each has discovered the answer – they must shoot the President of the United States!

From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald we learn of the many ways that each has committed or attempted to commit the ultimate crime.

In his program note, the esteemed Director states that he has wanted to put on a revival of ASSASSINS for a long time. He makes the most of his opportunity by assembling one of the strongest line-up of performers seen at the Hayes theatre for some time.

Now that I have seen the show I get where all the drive to put on this show is coming from and how this show is still relevant today. ASSASSINS is about how no matter what a person’s position in society is, everyone wants to feel important and valued.

When people, especially on the fringes of society, no longer feel as if anything that they do counts, then they will go to extremes. ASSASSINS looks at nine Americans who chose to complete the ultimate betrayal of their nation because their voice was not being heard. Look at contemporary America, and how the disempowered chose to vote for Trump!

Bryant’s high energy production impressed. In the circus setting, and with the cast revelling in Sondheim’s incisive score, and being backed by a crack band, male and female assassins were both well represented.

David Campbell played John Wilkes Booth, Laura Bunting was Emma Goldman, Kate Cole was Sara Jane Moore, Connor Crawford was John Hinkley Jnr, Martin Crewes was Guiseppe Zangara, Bobby Fox was Charles Guiteau, Hannah Fredericksen was Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme, Jason Koss  was Leon Kos, Rob McDougall was The Proprietor, Maxwell Simon played Lee Harvey Oswald and Justin Smith played Samuel Beck.

An important story well performed, ASSASSINS, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim with book by John Weidman, is playing the Hayes Theatre, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Darlinghurst until 19th October.