Posts Tagged ‘New End Theatre’

I first saw this Sondheimesque show four years ago at the even smaller New End Theatre in Hampstead where the young couple was Stephen Ashfield (who went on to be a Jersey Boy) and Emma Williams (soon to open in the transfer of Love Story from Chichester – more of her in the footnote!).

The show intertwines the stories of a young couple about to get married with another about to get divorced 10 tears and one son later. Both couples are on stage virtually throughout and there is little dialogue, so it feels more like a songspiel. I found it hard to get into it or even care about the characters in the first half, but things looked up in the second. It’s a clever show – maybe too clever for it own good; this might actually inhibit emotional engagement with the characters – but four years on still seems unfinished.

The Landor have attracted Jon Lee and Julie Atherton, who together with Grant Neal and Yvette Robinson, make a decent job of it. In truth, though, it wasn’t ready at this last preview. The cast do not yet seem comfortable, they and the band didn’t seem to have  quite mastered the complex score and there were issues with lighting and sound. Chris de Wilde’s design, though, is superb – an ‘Ikea’  wall of 45 large boxes onto which there are projections and into which props go in and out. 

It was often far too loud for the style and subject matter, though in contrast Julie Atherton was occasionally inaudible. I’d question the wisdom of amplification in this small space – with the inclusion of percussion, this is probably necessary, but it’s a chamber piece, so maybe a quieter orchestration without amplification would be better.

With hindsight, I wish I’d gone later in the run by which time I’m sure it will be very much the finished article.

* Emma Williams must be one of the most unlucky leading ladies in Britain. After being one of the youngest ever as Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang early in career, she was part of the Bat Boy failure (which I actually liked!) then got unsigned as the alternate Maria when Connie Fisher went public on doing all 8 shows a week, then flopped again in Desperately Seeking Susan (where I lost a money!). In between though we got successful fringe outings of this show and Model Girl plus Sweeny Todd (the show, not the role!) with Bryn Terfel & Maria Friedman during the RFH re-opening season.

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