been a major plot element in a number ofsuccessful musicals. From the redundant steel workers of The Full Montyto the striking coal miners of Billy Elliot, the issue of (mostly) mendealing with job elimination often took a backseat to more “feel good” plotpoints, be it a group of men doing a striptease act or a boy wanting to learnballet.
The Last Ship, playing at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre throughMarch 22, ups the labor quotient to about fifty percent with the other half a traditionalromance. The show, with music and lyrics by Sting, had its Broadway debut in2014 and lasted only three months. It’s been revamped with a new book by directorLorne Campbell and Sting doing eight shows a week.
It’s the Thatcher era and the employees of a Northern Englandshipyard have been told that the ship currently being built will not be finishedand most of the workers let go. Those who are asked to return to scrap the shipwill do so at a significantly lower wage. This doesn’t sit well with unionleader Jackie White (Sting) who’s trying to figure a way out while dealing withsome (ahem) “health issues.”
Meanwhile, Gideon Fletcher (Oliver Savile), who abandoned hisgirlfriend Meg Dawson (Frances McNamee) seventeen years earlier, has returnedand Meg is none too pleased to see him, at least until the finale.
The show is obviously a labor of love for Sting, but the incongruityof the two storylines is just the first of many obstacles that prevent thisshow from setting sail. They never really gel as the show clunkily moves fromone to the other before awkwardly merging at the end. Thick accents makedialogue often incomprehensible, and musically the show is all over the map. Sometimesthe music soars and sometimes it just lays there.
The cast does what it can and occasionally bring a thirddimension to two dimensional characters. McNamee comes off best and while Sting– who was upstaged by his cod piece in David Lynch’s Dune – does hisbest to not upstage his castmates, come on, it’s Sting.
But if Sting wasn’t in the show, would there be a compellingreason to see it? With Sting in the show, is there a compelling reasonto see it?
My answers are the same.
‘The Last Ship’ runs Tuesday through Sunday through March 22 atthe Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco. Dates and times vary.
For more information, go to broadwaysf.com