Although this cod-biblical stadium show has spectacular moments, it's also massively camp, woefully ill-conceived, and laden with bathos.
What really startles here is the gulf between the clearly earnest intentions and the frankly laughable execution. A lot of time, money, expertise, energy and commitment not to mention seven consultant historians have been lavished on something frankly risible. The only person to emerge with any real credit is horse trainer Nicki Pfeifer, and he'd be justified in having a long face tomorrow.
Nothing you see here is one tenth as spectacular as William Wyler's epic Oscar-winning film, and even that was often a terrible, long-winded bore.
How one wishes Frankie Howard would come on and lighten up the proceedings with a few naughty jokes. The tone of saccharine religiosity about the show, as Ben Hur's life connects with Jesus Christ's, has more in common with a pious Sunday school sermon than a great showbiz extravaganza.
And though the show may be called Ben Hur Live, I'm afraid it left me bored to death.
VIRGINIA BLACKBURN, DAILY EXPRESS
Nothing can make up for the fact that this is one of the most misconceived outings ever to make it into the public arena. In two words: It stinks.
Truly great theatre involves the suspension of disbelief: Disbelief was certainly the order of the day here.
In the pursuit of spectacle, dramatic tension was utterly lost - but even the spectacle wasn't anything like it was made out to be.
To paraphrase probably the most famous review of the film: Loathed Ben - absolutely hated Hur.
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