Opening this week at the Playhouse Theatre in London is the musical production of Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 film of the same name ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.’
The plot focuses on Pepa who has just found out that she has been left by her partner Ivan and wants to know why. After this, it is soon revealed that Ivan had previously abandoned his wife, Lucia and son for Pepa some 20 years ago. Lucia has now resurfaced, and is trying to find Ivan, as is Pepa.
Both women run around trying to find Ivan, coming closer to losing their minds with each step. As they become increasingly desperate, they try to find the answers to their situations, which involves trying to make Ivan face his wrongs.
Alongside this, Pepa’s friend Candela is running away from her problems – more specifically her boyfriend who she suspects of being a terrorist. She usually relies on Pepa for the answers, but with Pepa becoming more fragile she too starts to become frantic about her situation and confused. As the musical progresses, the women’s stories become more entwined and the more they search for answers, the closer to the verge they become.
Tamsin Greig takes the lead as Pepa and displays her perfect comic timing which she is renowned for, throughout. She is whimsical, sarcastic, fun, and embraces all the desperation and lunacy that defines so much of Pepa’s character and story. She may not be the best singer, but she manages to act through the songs so she doesn’t need to be.
Overall, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown makes for a good night out at the theatre but unlike some musicals, this has not been cast with incredible singers. Instead, the focus is on a group of strong actresses, all with a good sense of comedy, and the ability to hold a tune well enough to draw you into the drama on stage.