Bush Theatre, London – 22 December 2018
In events I can’t imagine being repeated anytime soon, I was the nominated ‘audience hunk’ for this performance of Drip, and far be it from me to review my own performance but never has a wind-chime been tinkled so beautifully… This kind of light-touch audience interaction is threaded throughout the show and really helps to set the mood of slightly bemused wonder.
Tom Wells’ Drip popped up briefly in the library at the Bush Theatre last year, played Edinburgh over the summer and returns to W12 in the studio where its idiosyncratic charms prove well suited. A one-man musical, we follow 15-year-old Liam as he makes a presentation to his school assembly in an attempt to win the annual Project Prize and, more importantly, win back his friend Caz.
See. He was meant to join her synchronised swimming team but he can’t really swim. And now he’s making a musical presentation and he’s only just starting to write songs. It’s a neat set-up which allows for Matthew Robins’ deceptively simple songs to earworm their way into your head, and for Wells’ wryly observed but always heartfelt lyrics to really strike home in all their honesty.
The drama here may not be on an epic scale but it is no less affecting for its smaller scope. Refreshingly, Liam’s a sorted, out gay kid and as such, his concerns are any teenager’s concerns. Whether smoking looks cool, how to flirt when you’re not sure the fit boy reciprocates your feelings, how to get your best friend to talk to you again, whether anyone can pull off peach swimming shorts…
Words like slight and twee are too easily tossed off here and are a disservice to both Jane Fallowfield’s production (ponchos and all) and Andrew Finnigan’s adorably sweet performance. Look elsewhere for your 11 o’clock numbers and cliffhangers and settle in here for something altogether more delicately moving.