Ben Hur Live! Reviews

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“This was a complete farce. It bore no resembelance to...”

★☆☆☆☆

written by on 21/09/2009

This was a complete farce. It bore no resembelance to the book or the film. The lead actors had zero charisma and the lead female actors were whiney and annoying. I'm still not sure what language they were speaking in and can anyone tell me why they sounded like Jabba the Hut? The narrator was wondering around like he was lost and the fact that he was wearing contemporary clothes made him stick out like a sore thumb. Ben Hur Live! was a bore fest of the highest order. It seems like it didn't know what it was trying to be, whether it was a circus, play, special effects show, a film. it was a confused mess!

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“Ben hur Live. Went to see this last night (20th Sept)...”

★★★★☆

written by on 20/09/2009

Ben hur Live. Went to see this last night (20th Sept) with husband and 3 children ages 16, 11 and 9. To find something which all enjoyed and are raving over is unusual to say the least. Shakespeare it is NOT. However, if you want something to take the family to which offers more than the Christmas panto or inane tv tie in, a show that will be remembered long after the latest pop star's concert has been forgotten, then this is it. Many of the press critics have panned the show for lack of realism particularly in the sea battle scene. Perhaps they should learn to suspend belief in the way kids do? This much maligned scene was voted the best bit by my lot. My 16-year-old likend the use of beach buggies to the use of speed boats by Somali pirates (who says young people are not interested in politics?) and took many pictures of the set etc in order that they might be used for inspiration for School drama productions where much has to be produced with minimum resources. One of the adult scenes is filled with circus acts and is choreographed in such a way that it did not provoke any awkward questions from the younger children but still had 16-year-old and Dad's eyes popping. For anyone who has been to Las Vegas it reminded us of the Treasure Island show held on the strip each night but without the scantily clad women. Likewise the chariot race owes a great deal to the show staged each day in Grand Park Puy de Fou (South West France). Having seen and enjoyed the French show we knew what to expect with the Chariot race, and the limitations of staging such an event. No it is not as fast as the promotional video and can never be a thrilling as the Charlton Heston version. It is indoors plus there are the modern rules of health and safety to contend with. Nevetheless it exceeded our expectations, we were on the edge of our seats, all willing our favourite to win, despite knowing the outcome already. We were all sorry to see the show end and would definately go again should the opportunity arise. My only criticism would be that sometimes there is too much going on, you do not know which part of the arena to focus on without missing action taking place elsewhere which is perhaps why it does not appeal to those used to the minimalist productions which comprise much of modern theatre. However this again appears to be a problem only for the older ones among us. Maybe because they are all young enough to remember the joy of being read to that they are content to sit back and enjoy the spectacle and let the narrator tell the story even if they were all convinced that Stewart Copeland is "Jerry Springer". Time to get out my old Police albums I think!

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“Ben Hur Live - Confusing and messy with Stewart...”

★★☆☆☆

written by on 20/09/2009

Ben Hur Live - Confusing and messy with Stewart Copeland wandering around aimlessly with a microphone! There was no connection between the audience and the main characters--even finding them amongst the huge array of gladiators and miscreants was very difficult. A very dissapointing evening with a lack lustre ambience. More like Ben Hur on ice than a theatrical experience. The horses were fabulous though and outshone the actors on every appearance.

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“This 'Arena Spectaclar' Ben Hur Live! begins with the...”

★☆☆☆☆

written by on 19/09/2009

This 'Arena Spectaclar' Ben Hur Live! begins with the producer asking the audience to pray.....
It didn't work!

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“Innovative, exciting, challenging and very, very...”

★★★★☆

written by on 18/09/2009

Innovative, exciting, challenging and very, very different. The opening night of Ben Hur Live did I imagine, live up to most people's expectations, a spectacular of epic proportions which worked well in the main. The actor playing Ben Hur could never have the sheer charisma of Charlton Heston but brought his own strengths to the role, notably speaking in Aramaic which added authenticity. At times there was almost too much going on in the arena with such a vast array of participants - it was hard to know where to look and what to watch. Fire-eaters, jugglers, acrobats, dancers, street vendors all jostled for attention. The sea-battle was well-executed once disbelief that pirates could possibly ride quad bikes on the high seas, had been suspended. Of course the ultimate climax of the tale of Ben Hur is the chariot race - although purists would argue it should be of the crucifixion especially as the full title of the original novel was Ben Hur - A Tale of the Christ. The chariot race thrilled and amazed, both at its conception and undoubted skill. Slightly marred by the fact that Ben Hur was not driving his own chariot (unlike Charlton Heston!) but a stuntman and the race passed all too swiftly, it achieved its aim. Personally I found the narration of Stuart Copeland irrating at times with his transatlantic accent and he kept reminding me of Gerry Springer - which was bizarre and distracting. Over amplification of his microphone didn't help either.

To summarise - different, thrilling, unique and well worth watching. To see it in Rome, one of its planned engagements, would truly be the icing on the cake but notwithstanding, the O2 Arena was a good place to be last night. CF

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“Ben Hur Live had it's World Premier last night at the...”

★★★★☆

written by on 18/09/2009

Ben Hur Live had it's World Premier last night at the O2 Arena. We had wonderful seats at the end of the arena over the entrance used by the chariots and galleys. The story of the film was presented in a slightly stuttering manner, but overall was very entertaining. The staging was inventive, some of the performances stilted but well worth the money. The scenes with the galleys were cleverly done, and the chariot race climax was excellent

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“Ben hur live at the O2 was fantastic! Saw it this...”

★★★★★

written by on 18/09/2009

Ben hur live at the O2 was fantastic! Saw it this evening with my father in law and brother in law, all of us enjoyed it and thought it had made a good leap from screen to stage. All the key scenes where there and ending with the classic chariot race that was very good indeed. It is a show for all ages and there is so much going on at all times in the arena at the same time, it may be the main actors or acrobats or street merchants or even a young boy with.two Shetland ponys on a chariot! Catch it if you can in the next few days but it is back again in january of next hear 2010 and I will be coming back again to see it then. Enjoy as we did!

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