Photo: Danny Kaan

There’s been a fair bit of hype surrounding Treason the Musical since its inception. Originally released as a 5-track EP, there were subsequent staged concert versions of the show on London’s West End, starring big names including Rosalie Craig and Carrie Hope Fletcher. The fully-staged version of the musical opened last month at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre; these performances were followed by a short run at the Sheffield Lyceum and it now finds itself at London’s Alexandra Palace. There are a pair of performances scheduled at the London Palladium later in the month.

Treason the Musical tells the story of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot but not as you may have learned about it – the focus here is less on Guy Fawkes and the events of the 5th of November (although of course we do get to see some of this) and more on the lives of Thomas Percy (Sam Ferriday) and his wife Martha (Nicole Raquel Dennis). We follow their story, which becomes dominated by their anger at King James (Joe McFadden) for his divisive, pro-Protestant positioning.

So does it live up to the hype? Well, there are certainly some impressive elements to this show, although we did walk away from Ally Pally rather underwhelmed. We’ll start with the positives, though: there is some truly impressive music here. Not every song is a hit – some are forgettable – but there are a handful that really shine, and the band sounds fantastic. There are a few individually-strong performances too – the real standout here is Dreamgirls and Dear Evan Hansen star Nicole Raquel Dennis – they have an incredible voice and their acting performance is the most nuanced and believable.

Sadly, it’s not all of this standard – there’s some truly hammy acting from a few members of the supporting cast, weirdly lending a handful of the scenes a borderline am dram feel – which seems very out of place on a stage like this. What really lets the show down, though, is the book – it’s a bit disjointed and confused, and at times actually quite boring. There are long scenes where not enough feels as though it’s happening and the whole thing feels somewhat anticlimactic – given the story that’s being told here, we were expecting something much more gripping.

It’s a shame, as Treason the Musical certainly has potential – we walked away from the theatre with the impression that this doesn’t feel like the finished product. With a few more belting tunes and a more compelling book this could be an exciting new musical – but it’s not there yet.

GAY TIMES gives Treason the Musical – 2/5

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