Bare

This musical showed me that imperfections don’t matter so much when there’s an awesome story, amazing cast and frequent bits of brilliance.

I felt excited for much of the time I was in that theatre; even just the church-like façade on and around the stage and the sound of bells I experienced as I came in. Every part of the production was executed with energy and attitude. The groups numbers were a delight and the character pieces, given by the leading ladies of the cast, were beautiful, poignant and smart. Not forgetting the OMG-so-good Sister Chantelle. 

The story is nice and strong, plus who doesn’t like a mixed catholic boarding school as a setting? I personally felt a bit let down by the ending, then again, could it have really gone anywhere else?

I must say, I am also not a fan of rock-like recitative; when conversations are sung through strained rhyming-couplets and melodic lines that go no where. I don’t like this. The repetitive, circular melodies make me feel agitated and having to listen so carefully for important information over significant lengths of time give me a headache. I am sure many people actually enjoy this, however, for me, it does a disservice to the story and music – the main reason I have a love-hate relationship with Rent.

Indeed, this musical has a lot in common with Rent. Storywise, it is easier to grab onto; musically, it lacks the memorable numbers that make Rent triumphant, though ‘God Don’t Make No Trash’ is a fun one.

There is a lot of fun, enjoyment and darkness in ‘Bare’. It is exciting, juicy and might be the next generation’s Rent or Spring Awakening. No doubt see it in a Student Union near you over the next couple of years. 

Boys From Syracuse, Union Theatre Production

Beneath the rumbling trains and in relocated green cinema seats, the Union theatre presented a blinding West-End performance of a classic Rodgers and Hart show.

The audience, however, were trapped inside a small black box theatre. The wonderful, well projected voices resounded loudly against the walls and painfully rang in my ears. The acting performance that would have been entertaining to even the most confused American tourists sitting at the back of the gods of the Coliseum felt false and uncomfortable when sitting only a couple of feet away from their upturned chins. The brilliantly choreographed dance numbers felt as lost as a Busby Berkeley in a tin can, and practically dangerous to the front row. Almost every aspect of this production ignored it’s surroundings and lacked self awareness.

The product seemed more like a showcase for the director, choreographer and performer than a piece of theatre created with the audience in mind, for example, singing at the top of your voice might show off your fantastic lung capacity but just gives the audience a headache in a space like this.

The beauty of black box theatres is the intimacy. The audience have the opportunity to connect with the characters on a very human level. Obviously, the musical was not created with this intimacy in mind, but the potential for brilliance lied in recreating the piece for this space, which 95% of the production failed to do.

There were moments of self-awareness. Two to be exact. During the overture, all the actors and actresses came on in 1930s-50s clothing as the cast getting ready to perform then the costume rail came on stage and the entire cast stripped down into their underwear to change into togas. The second moment of awareness when a very lovely trio between the 3 female leads (the best part of show) was interrupted by three dancers coming on, pushing the trio to the back left-hand corner of the stage circled round a war-time vintage microphone prop. Really, the singers should have at least been on the raise bit at the back.

Aside from the asinine nature of these ill-thought-out touches, my main criticism is that they weren’t followed through to create anything actually brilliant. Don’t just suggest a show within a show, be bold enough to present this properly.

I truly hope I get to see the director, choreographer and all the performers on a big, traditional stage soon because modern, black box theatres doesn’t seem to be their forte. 

Don’t Wake Me

I was unable to form sentences to the man sitting next to me as the lights came up. I stumbled into the light evening unable to think of what had just happened, nor of anything else.

Cognitive behaviour was slow to return as I remembered watching the heroine break down throughout her bow. It was all too much for everyone it seems.

I then remembered her thick, beautifully wild brown hair that chased after her face, full of life, despite the ever present death standing in the wings.

I think back to the minutes of transition it took me to adjust to the rhythmic poetry of the script, like modern Shakespeare, but once there, I was completely immersed as if it were native tongue.

There were triumphs and victories that were harrowing, uplifting, mundane, extraordinary, optimistic and depressing in this tale of shape shifting dragons.

There is indeed power in solo theatre – it can be quite the stun gun. It can hit people with emotion in a way that can be too much for the faint hearted.

I’d like to think this reminded me of the power of true theatre – and not that I have only just realised this now.

I feel awakened and and dazed at the same time.

Don’t Wake Me is on at The Cockpit Theatre, London between the 5th and the 22nd of June, then it will be up in Edinburgh from the 5th-25th August at the Gilded Balloon.