FOR THE past few days I have been mulling over what I could possibly write about Les Misérables in my review.

Rest assured, there is plenty I want to say, but how can I write about something so magnificent in so few words?

Les Misérables at The Mayflower

I have never previously ventured into Victor Hugo’s well-loved fictional world.

I have not read the book, watched the musical, or seen the film adaptation.

I’m not entirely sure why, but it just never happened.

So, when I was offered the opportunity to watch and review Les Mis at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, I jumped at the chance.

Set against the backdrop of the French revolution, the 1862 novel (and now musical) brimming with a multitude of characters enabled Hugo to write about the human tragedy at the heart of a social structure that had widespread inequalities between rich and poor.

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It reflects the view at the time that poverty is a moral failing that needed to be punished.

All of this is remarkably portrayed by the entire cast, all of whom played characters from various backgrounds.

The passion was palpable and the emotion was raw - I felt as though I was there in that moment with them all, fighting for change. 

The tale of suffering unfolds and you can’t help but feel connected to these characters, somewhat helped by the poignancy of the show’s themes in today’s world as a war rages in Ukraine.

Resilience and courage are at the heart of the performance, along with love and heartbreak.

The musical offers superb, solo showstoppers - I Dreamed a Dream (sung beautifully by Katie Hall), On My Own and Bring Him Home - but for me, it was in the choral ensemble numbers - particularly One Day More - that Les Misérables really achieves its power.

Daily Echo: Katie Hall as FantineKatie Hall as Fantine

Sometimes, there really is strength in numbers and I was consistently astonished by the range of vocals.

Every single cast member was as talented and as good as the other, but a special mention must go to Nic Greenshields as Javert.

He portrays him brilliantly, bringing a wonderful depth to the traditional villain of the piece.

In this production, the introduction of set slides against a background based on or similar to Hugo’s own artwork is a great, immersive addition.

This really makes the production come into its own and stand out from any other musical I’ve seen and is especially impressive during Javert’s suicide scene.

It simply took my breath away.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Ian Hughes and Helen Walsh insert well-needed comic relief as Thénardier and his wife, con artists who try and swindle everyone, helps break up the seriousness of the musical and they are usually accompanied by excellent choreography.

Daily Echo: Ian Hughes and Helen Walsh (centre)Ian Hughes and Helen Walsh (centre)

This production of Les Misérables left me speechless from start to finish, and made me ask myself why I have never watched it before.

Les Misérables is running at the Mayflower Theatre until March 26.