Seven singers, three sofas, one pianist – the scene was set for a musical revue. Familiar themes emerged, knitting the songs together: the things that we as human beings are afraid of, the search for fulfilment in life, and the pain and joy in the pursuit of love. But if I am completely honest, I felt a bit cheated: I came along expecting the “gritty and utterly stripped back theatre” described in the programme, and I don’t feel this show delivered what was promised.
Every performer had their moments, but the highlight for me was definitely the song where the woman (Nikki Gerrard) was pretending not to care about a relationship break up. There were some great lines in the lyrics and she delivered it impeccably, characterising pseudo-bitterness perfectly. A lovely number about the comfort of a well-established relationship and all it entails (performed by Chris Barton) was also strong, and the final song, which involved all of the company in beautiful harmonies, was a rousing end to the performance.
Those harmonies were lovely to listen to, and easy on the ear, but the musical score did at times seem quite complicated for the overall performance style. Most of the numbers were sung well, though the high notes were a little hard to reach. And as much as the company sung as if their lives depended on it, I found the renditions all a little too full of angst and rather too earnest.
Reviewing the show as the advertised piece of theatre, singing to imaginary people didn't quite work for me; having someone else to focus on or interact with would have been much more interesting. As a way into the performance, I also didn't really understand the significance of the furniture being painstakingly moved by each company member and then returned more or less to its original position again.
Overall, it felt more like I had been invited to attend a musical showcase laid on for the benefit of agents, rather than a piece of musical theatre. Still, the packed audience of friends, family and fellow students clearly appreciated the evening’s entertainment and I was happy to be carried along with that for most of the time. But I did find the show a little long: by the end, the songs were starting to sound the same. One of the songs asserts that “Nothing Lasts for Ever...” but the final few minutes felt a bit like they did.