Edges*** (Tabard Theatre)

Posted: August 1, 2014 in Theatre

BsMNMNkIcAAmZr_.jpg-largeThis review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com

The next few weeks promise big things for the American songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Their show Dogfight, a fully-developed musical, is about to have its UK premiere at Southwark Playhouse, but, here, as an appetiser, we get the chance to see a performance of their earlier hour-long song cycle. The linking theme of Edges is the joy and pain of being twenty-something and living in New York. We see four friends, two men, two women, who are on the edge of new careers, romance, commitment, or break-up. If that sounds familiar, well, yes, perhaps someone could write the book for “Friends – the Musical” one day and these songs would be ready to slot in. The show’s tone ranges from comedy to heartbreak, as the four begin by singing Become, describing their dreams and ambitions and explaining that each needs to conquer “the fear to become who I am”. In their romantic lives, they pass through an addiction to Facebook, begging Be My Friend to all who cross their paths, and end by declaring themselves Ready To Be Loved. The four young performers may not be the greatest of singers, but they all have that vital talent for interpreting lyrics with sincerity and selling them to an audience. In One Reason, Luke Street pleads to his father to explain why he deserted the family; Christina Modestou (fresh from a leading role in In the Heights) spits out In Short, cutting out the pleasantries to vent her ire at the man who walked out on her, but Thomas Henson reflects more ruefully on a similar situation by lamenting that he is Dispensable; Rebecca Jayne-Davies is more resilient, shrugging off the fact that her boyfriend is gay, by declaring him still Man of My Dreams. Adam Philpott’s simple staging always places the emphasis on acting out the lyrics, rather than achieving vocal excellence. Humour and bitter-sweetness are well balanced in the collection of songs, which have engaging lyrics and catchy melodies. Of course, the absence of a book to hold the songs together and flesh out the characters makes the production feel more like a work in progress than a completed show, but, nonetheless, it passes a pleasant hour and there is plenty of emerging musical theatre talent to enjoy.

Performance date: 31 July 2014

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