Thirteen people have tried to kill the President of the United States. Stephen Sondheim’s ensemble musical Assassins follows nine of them. Four succeeded, including Andy Nyman’s character, Charles Guiteau – the killer of President James Garfield. Catherine Tate‘s character missed.
Not one of Sondheim’s most popular works, Assassins is experimental and dark in what critic Henry Hitchings called “mixing elements of slapstick and documentary”. Its London revival has just completed its Christmas season run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, directed by Jamie Lloyd, described as “irresistibly potent… that exudes the very opposite of festive cheer.”
“Catherine Tate is cruelly funny… and Andy Nyman has an electric intensity as the delusional Charles Guiteau, not least when squirming on the end of an executioner’s rope,” Hitchings said. Catherine played Sarah Jane Moore, the unhinged, ditsy, multiple divorcee who shot a nearby taxi driver instead of President Gerald Ford.
Both Catherine and Andy kindly signed my sketch on the final day.