[…] And though Fosca has tended in the past to be the part that wins awards - a Tony for Donna Murphy in 1994, an Olivier for Maria Friedman two years later - this Passion makes clear the extent to which Giorgio drives the piece, not least because the superlative Thaxton conveys a visceral, wrenching fury to help suggest that, in some way, he and Fosca might indeed be soulmates, however grotesque he initially takes her to be. (Her behaviour nowadays might well prompt a restraining order.)

An alumnus of Les Mis (who isn’t?), Thaxton towers over Roger, who should be used to such pairings from her career-making West End stand in Evita opposite the amply framed Philip Quast. The difference in height serves the piece, Giorgio at first regarding Fosca as some sort of human gnat that won’t be easily swatted away. But that’s to ignore the insistence of someone who in her refusal to go starts to gnaw at Giorgio’s resolve. Eventually, his ongoing expressions of love to Clara are beginning to sound flat and pro forma next to the raw, exposed nerve that is Fosca, who in turn has the ability to turn Giorgio into a quivering wreck; Thaxton’s gathering physical disrepair lends the role a pathos I had never thought it capable of before, with no small assist from the show’s sinuous musical leitmotifs. […]