Follies May 2013 by Barrie Jerram

In a dusty theatre about to be demolished, a reunion of former "Weisman's Follies" members takes place.

Memories are exchanged and former routines resurrected. Amid these, the troubled lives of Buddy and Sally, and Ben and Phyllis unfold.

Stephen Sondheim's musical is an affectionate look back at an era long past, as well as an incisive exploration of relationships. It's also a challenging production to mount and Southwick Opera successfully met that challenge.

Strong direction and a fine cast ensured the complexities of the storyline and the presence of ghostly counterparts of younger selves were clearly understood.

There were superlative performances from the four principals - Tania Newton was heartbreaking with her two big ballads, while Karen Orchin fully captured the cynicism of the emotionally abandoned Phyllis in Could I Leave You. Raw emotion was never far away from the comic shell of Steve Emery's excellent Buddy.

The show's climax has Ben, sensitively played by Jim Apted, having a breakdown, but the full impact of this was lost due to him being swamped by overcrowded staging.

A couple of solo spots needed to be stronger, however, this was a most welcome revival of a great show.