Anyone who doesn’t get excited by the prospect of Scott Alan creating a song cycle is kidding themselves, right? He has the ability to bring out such emotion in his writing that it’s easy to get lost in his words. This song cycle brings together his most celebrated songs, with a stellar cast, made up of some of the best talent in Musical Theatre. It includes Andy Coxon, Adrian Hansel, Emma Hatton, Jodie Jacobs, Dean John Wilson and Alexia Khadime.
The story follows six individuals in their adventures through life; encountering love, loss, and mental illness.
Individually, the company’s voices are phenomenal and together they create some complex harmonies. However, with such unique sounds and characteristics, sometimes their voices don’t blend too well together. Along with a few minor sound issues, which should be easily solved, it doesn’t make a completely smooth listen.
Obviously, they have created a beautiful piece of work with such limited rehearsal time. Learning this many songs, with such interesting rhythm and style is hard work. However, when the space is so intimate and the band is so minimal, it’s easy to pick out even the tiniest of vocal errors and to sense when people aren’t completely comfortable with the material.
Scott Alan brings different music styles to this song cycle which are hard to find in a show. The contrast between more classical music, folk and contemporary sound brings colour and helps create specific emotions, which complement the characters and their stories. The first act is made up mainly of heavy ballads, however, which does feel slow. The show bounces back with Maisey (Emma Hatton) whose character, a performer desperate to be in the spotlight, isn’t quite as deep as the others. You do wonder whether Cathy from The Last 5 Years got lost in the wrong show.
Dean John Wilson and Jodie Jacobs, playing Joe and Anna, are the highlights throughout. Wilson’s story of depression and alcoholism is poignant, and his vocals are perfect for his role. Jodie uses her comedic timing and powerful voice to portray Anna. And together, they give the audience complete comfort and assurance in the work.
As a company, their acting is second to none, and watching the story of Brian (Andy Coxon) and Samuel (Adrian Hansel) meet, marry and become fathers is such an enchanting journey. On that note, the love portrayed is one of the most wonderful parts – it incorporates every kind of love, which is so refreshing to watch and should be encouraged much more within Theatre.
The lighting design by Andrew Ellis and Set design by Simon Daw adds an atmosphere which made the space feel even more intimate. The set, made up of a huge paper tree which hangs above you, a swing and a single bench, let the characters’ paths interweave and leave a lot of scope to use the in-the-round setting effectively.
Overall, a beautiful show with an even more beautiful story. Scott Alan isn’t afraid to bring up these hard hitting issues, and the cast deliver them well. One piece of advice: if you’re feeling fragile in any sense, tissues are definitely recommended.