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Jonathan Larson's award-winning '90s rock musical is having a moment on the London stage, with original cast member Anthony Rapp performing at the Menier Chocolate Factory and, in Greenwich, this rare British revival of the musical itself.

An updating of Puccini's 'La Bohème', 'Rent' is set among the bohemian denizens of New York's Lower East Side, stalked by the lurking threat of HIV/Aids. It's difficult to understand why it made such an impact on its 1996 New York premiere. The score is a largely raucous, rambling soft-rock affair, and, at a distance of 16 years, feels distinctly dated. So do the cast's ripped tights and Doc Martens.

The characters are barely more than sketches, and while there are some energetic performances, particularly from the full-voiced Zoe Birkett as lesbian performance artist Maureen, I couldn't help finding something distinctly creepy about a stage full of beaming, white-toothed actors bellowing cheerfully about Aids, homelessness and drug addiction.


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Absolutely loved the show last Wednesday night! Can we see this in the West End please!