By Isabella Fraser
Based on the 1922 novel by Herman Hesse, Siddhartha is a visually stunning multi-media production that shimmers with slick dance routines and large musical theatre numbers. There is a huge cast, something that is complemented by the large-scale choreography – some of which would not be out of place in a pop video. The performers are all clad in beautifully made costumes that add to the spectacle of the piece.
Opening with the projection of a tree onto a background screen, the impression is of a beautiful tree of life, opening up to a palace where the rich Siddhartha lives. The root of his restlessness unfolds and we follow him through his spiritual journey. Siddhartha is going off to find himself – this is part of growing up – but he leaves behind a pregnant girlfriend. This is brushed over and, while this is dealt with later in the show, it does not sit well that Siddhartha’s spiritual improvement is more important than his responsibilities to his unborn child. However, the journey of Siddhartha finding himself unfolds and it does indeed change him.
Director/Writer Isabella Biffi has created a show that is rich and visually engaging. The need to find yourself is something that many people can identify with; that it may be a lifelong quest is part of the story. While some of the themes in it may not sit well with a modern audience, they are certainly recognizable and it is an entertaining piece.
Siddhartha The Musical runs until 24 August at the Music Hall in the Assembly Rooms at 18.10. Running time is 1 hour 10 mins.