Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown: The Press Launch


We arrived, as we always do, far too early for the press launch of Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. Normally this might result in a lot of needless waiting around, instead we were (mis)directed up a flight of stairs and ended up getting a sneak preview of what was to come as we ambled into Tamsin Grieg’s soundcheck!

Quickly ushered out of the room, we soon ascended by the correct stairs to a reception featuring flamenco guitars, tapas and seemingly endless supplies of Cava. After loitering with intent for a little while my erstwhile companion Gareth (who we have to thank for the pictures we use here) and I were ushered back into the room we had visited earlier and Sandi Toksvig took to the stage to introduce the night’s events. She readily confessed that she normally has an ulterior motive at these events but assured the gathering crowd that her motives on this occasion were entirely above board. Toksvig spoke of how Pedro Almodovar has a wonderful knack for writing female characters and how finally female-centric musicals and plays are regularly appearing in the West End.


Then Ricardo Afonso appears and launches into the rhythmic, frenetic and wildly colourful Madrid, a number which sets the scene for the whole show. Composer David Yazbek will later talk about how the percussive groove of the music is unique and it’s true that from the first chords you know the show is set either in Spain or Latin America.

We get to hear from director Bartlett Sher who lets us know he’s picking up the local lingo when he confides that he now understands that when something is “quite good” it really isn’t good at all. Haydn Gwynne puts in an appearance too, discussing moving from Maggie Thatcher to her new role and performing (alongside Yazbek) a song so new she is still learning the lyrics!


We end with Grieg, as funny and charming as we might have expected and with a surprisingly powerful vocal presence that seems a perfect fit for the songs! The Cava flows once more, we drink a shot of gazpacho to wash it down and then we’re away from the bustling crowds of Madrid and back into the damp London streets, tired but excited as we might have just glimpsed the best new musical that will appear in London for some time…


Matt has been writing on all manner of subjects for over 15 years. He has written for a number of music magazines, made appearances on BBC Introducing and regularly contributed to local newspapers. These days he mostly writes about rugby and is passionate about providing insight into women's rugby! He also writes on theatre and regularly reviews shows across the south.

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