Evita/Malvern Theatres

IF only politics were that simple. With both the main British political parties currently embroiled in perpetual civil war, we are reminded how a man and wife double act once made it look so easy.

Here’s how to do it. Blend a rod of iron with an olive branch and you can rule over a country as unpredictable and socially hyperactive as Argentina. Simples.

Juan and Eva Peron did indeed provide the template on how it could be done. They became, for all intents and purposes, father and mother of this staunchly Catholic country, and the duty of the populace was therefore to unquestioningly obey. You don’t defy your parents.

The golden couple theme would later be expanded by John and Jackie Kennedy, and in more recent times, here in Britain by the Blairs.

Thankfully, we Brits don’t tend to buy into the momma-poppa thing. But in the volatile climate of 1940s Argentina the combination of glamour and power became an overnight sensation.

Lucy O’Byrne is absolutely sensational in the starring role. She overwhelms us with the poignancy, pathos and sheer power of a voice that could shatter a thousand Buenos Aires chandeliers.

Evita is mother, goddess, mistress, wife… in a religiously repressed society, she ticks every box. The president’s wife may have had a colourful past, but all is forgiven in this confessional.

Mike Sterling as Juan Peron is a mixture of malevolence and magnanimity. He perfectly portrays the machismo and assured swagger that goes with the total Latino power trip, many of his mannerisms bringing to mind the old black-and-white film footage of the late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

And all the while, Glenn Carter as narrator Che hovers on the sidelines, a bearded and beret-headed revolutionary just waiting for the whole house of cards to come tumbling down.

Featuring fabulous dance routines and a soundtrack courtesy of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Evita comes to Worcestershire direct from its West End triumph. Running until Saturday (September 8) this is one show that really should not be missed.

John Phillpott