St James Theatre, London – until 27 August 2016
Corruption, greed, love and the courage to stand up for your convictions are just some of the themes that run through this surprisingly vicious musical that knows how to pack a punch.
This new musical created by Mike Dyer and brought to the stage by director Phil Willmott follows the fortunes of young Jimmy Tucker – a photographer with the idea of changing the world through his work. But he finds his principles when he is commissioned by a stranger to capture the seven deadly sins through an image.
The first thing to say about this musical is that it definitely has a vibe of Doctor Faustus about it, made to fit in with our modern day obsession with money and fame which for the most part works in really showing how there is a little bit of temptation in all of us – no matter how good our principles are.
But there are some moments during which the message is overemphasised – particularly during songs such as “7even Deadly Sins” or even “Eyes of the World” which tends to leave you feeling guilty for not doing more for people around the world, becoming a little bit tiresome.
Yet, there are strengths musically, such as “Innocent Skies” a wonderfully wistful song that suits Natalie Anderson’s voice perfectly or the sharp and edgy “Chasing the Dream” which captures the cynical nature of fame.
There are also some strong performances to enjoy from Natalie Anderson’s sweet but straight talking Tara (a bit underused perhaps and could use a few more moments with her and Jimmy) to David Albury’s performance as Jimmy, whose confusion and struggles while trying to keep to his principles is engaging to watch. But it is Niamh Perry’s performance as Pandora that is the real revelation. To see her transform from a confident and outgoing personality to one that is cynical, vulnerable and essentially isolated from everyone is truly heartbreaking – such as her scene when she is encouraged to get rid of her baby by a former lover is pretty hard and uncomfortable to watch.
Phil Willmott’s production is sharp and edgy, concentrating on the cynical and corrupt nature of fame – which is something that many people watching will be aware of which does leave you wondering if it needed to be said again. This along with the clever set and video designs of Timothy Bird, really help to capture the story and grabs the audience’s attention from the very beginning.
However, the production also reveals a few flaws of Mike Dyer’s book. For example, in terms of character development it feels a bit vague and we don’t get to really understand the character’s motivations – such as what was going on in Tara’s background? How does Jimmy get out of working for Miles? The other issue is that the story does seem to be a little bit all over the place, flitting from one scene to the next that it can be bewildering to follow. Some scenes seem to long and overemphasised such as the opening scene with Jimmy’s father, which although gives the audience an understanding of Jimmy’s motives for following in his dad’s footsteps, could have been shortened slightly and more focused.
With Exposure the Musical, there is certainly plenty of potential in terms of ideas and is well suited for a modern audience,flitting between cynical and heartbreaking. There is also no doubting the energy of the musical, meaning that time flies by. But, it is a piece of work that needs a bit of tidying up to become more coherent and enjoyable.
Exposure the Musical will run at St James Theatre until the 27th August. To book tickets visit: Discount Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk , Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.