Luv Esther at Clitheroe's The Grand

Around twenty of us attended a performance of Luv Esther, written by Ray Goudie and Murray Watts, at Clitheroe’s The Grand, last night. I thought it was a stunningly good show, despite sitting two rows behind the world’s tallest man. A musical, it made superb use of video and lighting, and the songs alternated between rock, pop and rap.

Esther (Leah Johnson) and her surprisingly youthful relative, Mordechai (Meilyr Rees), were played well and had great singing voices. Her innocence and his devotion came across nicely; set in modern times, the two texted each other when Mordechai alerts her to Haman’s edict and urges her to action. Suspense is cleverly plied when Esther enters the king’s presence without being bidden; her maids sing ‘don’t do it!’ before falling to the floor behind her. The king raises his staff as though to strike her, but then offers it in welcome.

Haman was cleverly portrayed by Luke Simnett; his rather satanic character wore black leather, complimented with a tattooed face. He was rather sexually charged, with a number of figures in what appeared to be gimp suits, complete with leather collars and chains, dancing about him. This was indeed the one who would sell an entire people, to quote Esther. The scene in which he whispered anti-Semitic hatred into the king’s ear was extremely poignant; green stage lighting and pre-recorded repetition of words like ‘enemies’ and ‘traitors’ worked well.

The real star of the show for me was Steven Fentiman, playing Hegai, the king’s eunuch. He performed the role of narrator, and his dance moves and facial expressions were brilliant. Wearing black skinny jeans and a leopard-print jacket, he was the uber-cool palace flunky with a keen eye for Persian politics and Palace ladies. Rob Holman's Xerxes and the small chorus also really made the show a success. 

The producers claimed some moral ground towards the end, linking Esther the refugee to the millions around our world who have this status. Technically, Esther was no such thing; she was descended from captives, which is a little different. Nevertheless, I salute a theatre group’s attempt to relate an ancient story to a modern crisis, and their tacit acknowledgment that the biblical text is applicable in every age.

If this show is performed near you- watch it. You will not be disappointed.