It seems an obvious point to make, but musicals need good songs. They need melodies and compositions that elevate and elucidate the narrative, captivating their audiences. Sadly Siddhartha, The Musical lacks a single good number. Indeed, even its story is poor – a watered down retelling of a compelling enlightenment myth that at its heart is more Disney than divine.
Inspired by Herman Hesse’s novel, a huge ensemble cast tells the tale of Prince Siddhartha’s quest for spiritual illumination, following his journey from spoiled ignorant prince to travelling nomad. At its beginning the spectacle is certainly there, with the opening tracks accompanied by a wild storm of skilful dancing and thrashing. A translucent curtain hangs constantly at the back of the stage too, presenting a wonderful array of spiritual images across its flowing surface.
In spite of the entirely Italian singing (serviced by English surtitles at the side of the stage), these opening moments are fairly moving in their spirit and verve. The problem then is that the music is incredibly samey, with each song’s complementary base lyrics showcasing none of the difficulties of transition that someone in Siddhartha’s position would have faced. A male voice establishes a verse, a female echoes the chorus, a male establishes a verse and etc.
As the eponymous character though, Girogio Adamo is fantastic – an enchanting presence in spite of the somewhat repetitive production that surrounds him. Barrel-chested and honey-voiced, he is a marvel to be hold, believable both as spoiled royal and reborn vagrant.
With such a talented cast it’s a pity they were given something so shallow and hollow. The beauty of the Fringe is the variety on offer and Siddhartha, The Musical certainly is unlike anything else in the city, but it just isn’t clever enough with its material to warrant a recommendation.
Siddhartha, The Musical is at The Assembly Rooms (Venue 20) until 24 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.