This review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com
For those of us who had E=MC squared instilled in us at school, but still have no idea what E, M or C stand for nor care, this is the perfect show. Mr Einstein does not feature in the character list and serious science is mentioned only very whimsically. Instead we have a show more about connectivity than relativity, developed from the loose idea that we are all comets travelling in our own orbits, crossing paths, maybe meeting, maybe colliding. This 80-minute musical entertainment which originated in Canada, is not quite a fully- fledged musical, although perhaps it will eventually become one. Brian Hill’s book links the songs and gives us amusing short sketches, but it does not provide a narrative running through. The general theme is young people making discoveries and feeling their way around life’s common obstacles. A Maths geek (Simon Bailey), obsessed with the perfection of Pi, randomly dates an Art historian (Jodie Steel) with a disastrous relationship history. A young man with an allergy to cats (Curtis Brown) becomes besotted with a girl who is inseparable from her feline friends. An OCD sufferer (Natasha Karp) dreads the prospect of eating a cake made especially for her by her boyfriend, who has touched all the ingredients with his hands. A lifelong hater of apples (Joshua LeClair) finds himself an unlikely soulmate A young woman (Rebekah Lowings) announces her engagement to her girlfriends, trying to pretend that nothing will change. And so on. In more wistful moments, an only child (Ina Marie Smith) pays tribute to her mother, a student (LeClair again) reflects on the footprints that he has left in the shifting sands of his past and another young man (Andrew Gallo) sings of the weight of family expectations. The songs – solos, duets and chorus numbers – are performed in Christopher Lane’s very simple production with keyboard accompaniment on a stage adorned only by a high stool for each of the eight performers. Neil Bartram’s varied middle-of-the-road music is always easy on the ear and climaxes with Nothing Without You, a rousing anthem for the entire company which would not have been out of place in a Broadway or West End hit. However, it is Bartram’s witty and thoughtful lyrics which really stand out and beautifully clear singing showcases them perfectly. Relaxing and uplifting, this show offers an ideal way to spend an early Summer evening and, for those of us who are always on the lookout for the next Sondheim, well who knows?
Performance date: 29 May 2015