Southwark Playhouse, London – until 20 July 2019
This heartwarming new musical has great potential thanks to its catchy score and wonderfully uplifting spirit.
Have you ever realised that a five pound note is always there during some of the most significant times of your life? If you haven’t then you need to come and see this heartwarming and immensely charming new musical that follows a five pound notes journey from pocket to pocket and its significance to different people in all walks of life.
With a ‘Love Actually’ sense of structure in terms of combining a number of individual stories into one as a whole, Fiver takes audiences on a journey to see just how important this sum of money is to a lot of people. From giving a homeless person a sense of hope that things are going to get better, to a teenager offering his fiver to a fellow pupil who has just had their own money taken off them – this is a musical that reveals the best in humanity.
Created by Alex James Ellison and Tom Lees, Fiver comes across as a celebration of people from every possible kind of background who are all united by something small but significant. It focuses very much on the positive connotations of money and its ability to do good. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way and while some of the transitions between characters and scenes could be slightly smoother there is plenty of potential to be found.
Musically, many of the songs are considerably catchy with ‘Change is Bringing Me Down’ and ‘A Fiver’s Destiny’ proving to be real highlights lyrically, while ‘Not My Problem’ hilariously recounts what happens when someone accidentally drops a fiver on the ground. But there are also plenty of songs that hit the emotions wonderfully well including ‘You’ll be a Man, My Son’ and ‘For Your Light to Shine’ – both are extremely poignant in dealing with the emotions related to grief.
As director, Lees has created a production that is lively and creative but could use a little more space in order for it to really take flight. But there are some wonderfully memorable scenes – not least the hilarious surprise party scene in which the cast change characters with impressive speed or the scene in which a boyfriend is trying to propose to his girlfriend recruiting the help of two children. Everything is handled with great warmth, reflecting the strength of the writing well. The only slight negative is some issues with the sound that seems to drown out some of the lyrics which can take away from the experience slightly.
In terms of performances, there are plenty to be enjoyed as the cast transform into a number of different characters. Aoife Clesham particularly stands out as the woman who constantly phoning her ex-boyfriend and attempting to leave the ‘right’ answering machine message. She has a wonderful sense of comical timing that works well but also highlights vulnerability when it comes to being a teacher being left a number of letters from a student. Elsewhere, Dan Buckley is wonderfully likeable and charismatic throughout, Luke Bayer transforms from character to character with great ease (particularly during the surprise party scene), Hiba Elchikhe is a wonderful personality whether it is portraying a character with attitude or a vulnerable lonely student and Alex James Ellison ties it all together providing great charm and storytelling ability as the narrator of the piece.
Fiver is a hilarious, heartwarming and throughly enjoyable new musical that deserves a great future.
By Emma Clarendon
Fiver continues to play at the Southwark Playhouse until the 20th July.