And it's down to replacing the Tiger Lillies with 'David Thomas and two pale boys'.
The basic problem is the sound mix is incredibly awful. The amplified instruments of the 'two pale boys' drown out Thomas. And they all drown out anything the actors are trying to do.
Remember the screams as Cruel Frederick is whipping? (A boy needs a hobby!) Not in this performance. The cast needn't bother playing their instruments in the Hare song - they might as well be miming for all you can hear them.
And that's from row G of the stalls - apparently, it was even worse in the circles.
I am hopeful things will improve: because it ran 100 minutes rather than 90 and started 5 minutes late, I knew I'd miss the trains I wanted to catch, so I had a chat with the sound crew. They are fully aware of the problems - the phrase 'only obeying orders' was not disagreed with.
DT&2pb are used to rock concert sound, and (this is my interpretation) haven't got a clue when it comes to the somewhat different requirements of sharing a theatre stage with someone else. That has not stopped them insisting that they know what they want.
However it's abundantly clear that things have to change - this was an audience that was lively at the start, but started looking at its watches an hour in. At two points, there was 'thank ghod it's over' applause from people who are not as familiar with the show as some of us, and I've never seen that happen before.
Good bits: well DT does have a physical presence (ie he's big) and did a nice 'oops, I've messed up the end of Johnny Head-in-air' which I understand was not entirely expected (ie he fluffed up worse than they were expecting...).
And some of the sounds the 2pb produce are very interesting - the pb with the echo and fx on the sound of his blowing in particular. It works well for Flying Robert - it's not a coincidence that this is the quietest of the songs - but the rest of them do not work well at the moment. Indeed, it's only because I know the lyrics so well that I could know what was being sung some of the time.
Overall: if you have tickets for the next week or so - exchange them now.