Old Vic, London – until 17 June 2017
“People fall through the world all the time.”
Former Noah and the Whale front-man and songwriter Charlie Fink is no stranger to the Old Vic, having composed the rather lovely score for The Lorax, but his return takes a rather unconventional form in the shape of Cover My Tracks. It occupies that strange place of ‘play with songs’, or ‘live gig and modern folk tale’, or ‘night of live music and theatre’, anything but call it a musical apparently – that probably wouldn’t fit with the brand that the Old Vic are trying to establish with their Lates programme.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you call it, as the combination here is subtly beguiling. Reuniting with Lorax scribe David Greig, Fink plays Frank, a depressive young songwriter who has split with his band due to ‘artistic differences’ of a sort and Jade Anouka takes the role of Sarah, the hotel worker who intervenes in his life at a crucial moment, seemingly setting it on a new path. Frank though, is determined to find a uniquely 21st century route into rockstar immortality which involves disappearing completely.
The story is recounted by Sarah, in a gorgeously positioned performance from Jade Anouka, wry and wistful, heartfelt and heartbreaking, and soundtracked by Frank’s melancholy songs, played live by Fink on guitar with additional backing. Fink also gets to play Frank in flashback, rather amusingly as they embark on an unlikely musical odyssey together. Max Webster’s direction is quietly effective, relying on Lee Curran’s sculptured lighting design for real impact, and preventing it from ever seeming too static.
A different take on musical storytelling then, and an interesting one. Anouka is the kind of hugely engaging performer you should never want to be missing and Fink’s accomplished way with a simple but emotive melody is the perfect partner here to Greig’s tale.