Theatre Reviews Roundup: Your Lie in April

Harold Pinter Theatre

A young female and male couple stand close together looking out in a scene from the stage musical Your Lie in April at the Harold Pinter Theatre
Mia Kobayashi and Zheng Xi Yong in Your Lie in April. Photo: Craig Sugden

A Japanese manga comic which became anime TV series has reached London theatre as a musical. It’s the story of a traumatised young  pianist and a love that may save him. Huge praise for the young stars, Zheng Xi Yong and Mia Kobayashi, is offset by disappointment, mockery even, for many other aspects of the production  The American music by Frank Wildhorn received a mixed reception. Reviews are trickling in slowly so do come back for an update.

[Links to full reviews are included but a number are behind paywalls and therefore may not be accessible]

Gary Naylor in Broadway World (5★) offered this advice (which plenty of reviewers didn’t take): ‘Fold your arms and harumph and you’ll miss the point; get dizzy recalling that first flush of adolescent desire and the agony of its not being reciprocated, and you’re in.’ He thought ‘the songs are plenty good enough to stand on their own two feet.’ He declared, ‘Mia Kobayashi…radiates superstar power.’

For Marianka Swain at LondonTheatre (4★) it ‘has a knocks-you-flat emotional force that you cannot resist. It will absolutely make you cry.’ The songs were key for her: ‘Each one of these sensationally catchy pop-rock anthems has a disarming sincere directness‘. It was, she concluded, an ‘impassioned, uplifting and deeply moving musical’

The Guardian’s Arifa Akbar (3★) listed all reasons she didn’t like it. The book? ‘full of cheesy cliches.’ The characters? ‘Americanised and schematic.’ The plot? ‘overdramatic, underexplained’. The design? ‘mystifying, with a thrown-together look.’ Fortunately, ‘the songs, along with spirited performances, become the show’s saving grace.’ Paul Vale for The Stage (3★) also liked the music: ‘this is Wildhorn’s best score of recent years, capturing both the spirit of manga and the power of music to restore the soul.’

Dzifa Benson writing for the Telegraph (3★) had a negative view of the music ‘let down by Frank Wildhorn’s generic show-tunes,’ but thought ‘All the performances…are spot on’.

‘Buyer beware,’ said Dominic Maxwell in The Times (3★), ‘it’s a cheesefest from start to finish. What can I say, though? Sometimes a platter of cheese is just what you fancy.’

The ‘show is overpowered by the crashing clichés of its story and the clunky Americanisms of Rinne B Groff’s English version,’ said Tom Wicker reviewing for Time Out (3★ assumed). He pointed out, ‘you’re in trouble with a musical when the songs are straining so hard to be inspirational that a plot-device bike ride gets as rousing an anthem as a character’s death.’

Nick Curtis in The Standard (2★) hated it, and he didn’t pull his punches: ‘this emotionally overwrought Japanese musical…strikes me as absurd…it’s glib, mawkish and riddled with clichés.’ As for the music, ‘Frank Wildhorn’s score is dominated by gushy, eyes-aloft, mouth-agape anthems’. Here’s his knockout blow: ‘Anger, grief and anxiety are turned up to 11 for the most OTT songs before the tone slips back to the gurgling, simpering comedy of a teen sitcom.’

Critics’ Average Rating 3.3★

Value rating 44 (Value rating is the Average Critic Rating divided by the typical ticket price.)

Your Lie in April can be seen at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 21 September 2024. Buy tickets directly from

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