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Review: 'Here Lies Love' fun, but superficial

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DEEPTI HAJELA | May 6, 2014 12:08 PM EST | AP


NEW YORK (AP) — It's got a good beat, for sure. And you're going to dance to it, or, at the very least, move around. Mainly because it's either that or get smushed by a moving set. "Here Lies Love," David Byrne and Fatboy Slim's musical about the life of Imelda Marcos is energetic, catchy and entertaining but ultimately kind of slight.

Back for another run at The Public Theater, the 90-minute, all-music production puts the audience in a dance club, flashing lights and all. Aside from some onlookers on an upper level, the majority of the audience stands on the floor, with stages running along the walls and in the center of the room. Throughout the show, members of the crew move people around like extras as the stages are rolled around and the energetic cast moves from section to section.

The show recounts Marcos' humble origins; her unsuccessful romance with Benigno Aquino, who would later oppose her husband; and her whirlwind courtship and life with Ferdinand Marcos. It shows her disillusionment with her life, as well as her addiction to all things opulent, and goes into the strife and turmoil that led to the "People Power" revolution in 1989 that saw Marcos' flee the country after years of iron-fisted rule.

It's a well-done telling, and the show stays away from over-the-top caricature — there's no mention of Imelda Marcos' famous shoe collection, for example. The cast, led by Ruthie Ann Miles as Imelda Marcos and Jose Llana as her husband, are uniformly strong performers.

But it also feels a little simple — poor girl, looking for love whether from her husband or the people of her country, hiding her sorrow in controlled substances and compulsive shopping on a national scale. But the actual history of the Marcoses, and the Philippines, was much darker than that, something that's not really brought home to the audience.

The show's music is the highlight — infectious, covering different styles and making it easy for the audience to want to dance along. The lyrics are taken from actual interviews and speeches, adding a certain poignancy. The show also uses video projections, and during moments like a political campaign, cameras that show the actual audience as well.

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Online: http://herelieslove.com