Greenwich Theatre, London – until 19 October 2019
The grungy streets of Brooklyn may not be your typical setting for a fairytale, especially not one that delves into the complexities of love, but pieces like this one, directed by Adam Haigh, are exactly what is starting to flood the theatre scene.
Five homeless musicians, who branded themselves as City Weeds, reside at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Using everything in their possession, they transform their area into the story of a young Parisian girl, Brooklyn. It begins by depicting a blossoming relationship between her parents, Taylor Collins (played by John Addison) and Faith (enacted by Sabrina Aloueche), in which its fleeting nature rapidly breaks down when Taylor deserts his lover and their baby to return to America. Brooklyn – a performance beautifully executed by Hiba Elchikhe – is subsequently orphaned, though manages to get picked up for her astounding vocal talents.
Accustomed diva Paradice (Emily-Mae) enters the mix when she battles Brooklyn for the ultimate reward of being the most successful in the music industry. Providing the ideal environment for Elchikhe and Emily-Mae to exhibit their overwhelmingly powerful voices, the audience get to experience some true belters. Just prior to this, sassy Paradice portrays another dynamic to her character, wholeheartedly singing the profound ballad titled ‘Raven’, which undoubtedly leaves the audience wanting more.
Guiding the performance – almost like a narrator – throughout is Andrew Patrick-Walker, who plays the optimistic street singer. His engaging energy keep the audience on track through the bumpy storyline. After featuring bouts of suicide and drug consumption amid the family struggles of Brooklyn, the endearing end to the tale is played fairly safe and predictably, though maybe there’s nothing wrong with a conclusion like this every once in a while.
With such a stellar cast, it is a shame that they are confined to the limitations that this piece provides. The set (designed by Justin Williams) fits well with the essence of the narrative, but doesn’t allow for much experimentation to explore what more these very talented actors have to offer. However, their phenomenal voices combined with Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson’s score won’t leave viewers disappointed. They all display a great deal of control while putting so much passion into each song, being able to perform immaculately in both group numbers and solo.
All in all, this show is a sweet little composition, but condenses five huge talents onto one street in Brooklyn, when really they should be busy taking over the world.
It runs until 19 October.