Union Theatre, London – until 7 July 2018
American lyricist and composer John Bucchino isn’t very well known in the UK but this sweet revue certainly makes me want me to delve into his backlog and discover his other gems.
Bucchino and Daisy Prince’s musical It’s Only Life features songs which wittily face the struggles of modern life, especially in terms of romance. Although the songs link together somewhat, they are more individual pieces which come together to form a narrative of people as a whole, rather than separate stories. The song cycle, therefore, feels universal and there’s certainly an emotion, lyric or feeling for everyone to relate to.
The five-person strong cast is vocally wonderful, working well both individually and when they join for glorious ensemble moments. Jordan Shaw gives vocal perfection throughout, especially with his smooth rendition of ‘If I Ever Say I’m Over You’ which is a definite stand out.
Recent graduates, Will Carey and Sammy Graham show off their vocals as well as comedic timing. Carey’s cheeky performance of ‘On My Bedside Table’ is brilliant and Graham’s diction and technique are faultless from start to end. Jennifer Harding feels right at home with the music and gives a very truthful performance. Noel Sullivan shows off his strong belt whilst retaining a vulnerability and sweetness, something which is in fact embodied by the entire cast who always keep the heart of the story at the centre rather than trying to out-sing one another.
Justin Williams’ set design is intriguing from the first time we lay eyes on it. A simple white background is cleverly highlighted with pastel pinks, oranges, greens and blues which allows us to move from location to location without any flashiness or clumsiness. The props that are used are used well and again, don’t detract from the core of the show- the songs. Tania Azevedo has done a wonderful job of bringing the stories to life with simplicity.
It’s Only Life represents both the diversity of Britain as well as the ways we’re all connected. With great vocals, memorably moving songs and a fantastic cast, there’s no reason not to love this show. This is an intimate piece of theatre which flows with an intensity that keeps you invested throughout.