After debuting off-Broadway two years ago, Cruel Intentions the ‘90s Musical premiers in the UK at Edinburgh Festival Fringe with an all-new cast. As the lights go out in the large Spiegeltent, everyone is ready for a night filled with music, style, and blackmail.
The 1999 movie and the musical itself focus on attractive yet cruel teenage step-siblings Sebastian Valmont and Kathryn Merteuil, who attend an elite school. It charts the devious webs that the pair weave for the sake of pleasure and revenge, delighting in their dispassionate manipulation of the innocent. In the end, their intentions do not have the results they planned. The plot exposes the misrepresentation of the wealthy and glamorous elite in a stylish and sexy manner.
The characters in this production are well cast, and there are no weak links: every actor in the show is as talented as the others. Dominic Anderson portrays the nasty image of Sebastian in the most charming way possible, though he fails to show enough deep, painful emotion in his break-up scene. Rebecca Gilhooley as Kathryn gives an excellent performance with her sassy attitude, her stunning performance of ‘Only Happy When It Rains’ and vicious charm. Sophie Isaacs, as religious headmaster’s daughter Anette, brings the house down with her powerful voice as she sings ‘Torn’, though, she is rather restrained during the other scenes. Evelyn Hoskins gives out a perfectly over-the-top performance, as she takes on the part of innocent Cecile.
The musical is filled with decent arrangements from Zach Spound, re-imagining the songs of Placebo, The Verve and the Backstreet Boys. Sometimes the songs work really well with the scenes, such as ‘Kiss Me’ in the scene of Mertuil and Cecile’s infamous kiss. Some songs from the original soundtrack of the movie are also in the musical, such as ‘Colourblind’ an essential number for setting the emotional tone of one of the most important scenes in the story. Other songs, unfortunately, interrupt the story. Nonetheless, the songs are nostalgic reminders for the people who lived through the 1990s and it is impossible for one to stop oneself from singing along with the cast.
Cruel Intentions the ‘90s Musical is not just a musical: it is also a time machine which takes the audience back in time, with a stylish and exciting adaptation of the ‘90s cult classic Cruel Intentions.
Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical is on at Assembly George Square Gardens – Palais du Variete (Venue 3)
At 20:30 until 25th August
Book tickets here
Image: Hannah Bradley