Entertainment & Arts

Pedro Almodovar welcomes Women on the Verge in West End

Tamsin Greig and Pedro Almodovar Image copyright DARREN BELL PHOTOGRAPHY
Image caption Tamsin Greig and Pedro Almodovar appeared on the red carpet

Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar joined the cast of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown on stage for the curtain call at its opening night.

The musical, at London's Playhouse Theatre, is based on Almodovar's Oscar-nominated 1988 black comedy.

The show stars Tamsin Greig in her first stage musical role.

Almodovar said there was a "huge difference" between the West End production and the original Broadway version, which flopped in 2010.

"In Broadway it was too big. Here they they've got the real dimension for the play," he told the BBC after Monday's opening.

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Media captionAlmodovar: "Huge difference between shows"

"There are two songs taken away and two new songs and I think they are wonderful. The rest of the music sounds completely different."

The opening night audience included Greig's Episodes co-star Stephen Mangan, Zoe Wanamaker, Graham Norton and Cherie Blair.

Greig plays the main role of Pepa in the Madrid-based comedy about female friends and their chaotic lives. The West End version is directed by Bartlett Sher.

Greig said Almodovar's presence felt "a little bit like having Shakespeare in the audience".

"You know that someone is there to whom the story is connected. He's such a generous spirit. It doesn't feel overwhelming or terrifying. It just feels like you want to walk with him."

In his four-star review for the Telegraph, theatre critic Dominic Cavendish wrote: "This is an absolute joy of an evening, built paradoxically on the unhinging despair that almost all of us experience in facing rejection, heart-break and the jealousy that comes with love betrayed."

In the Guardian, Michael Billington praised Greig's "sparky performance", noting that she "conveys Pepa's gutsy resilience and professional pride".

Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard said the production took "too long to look fully at ease".

But he added: "Thanks to a fizzier and more fluent second half this is a musical that leaves one feeling well entertained. But even if its vitality in the end proves charming, the journey is a rather bumpy one."

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