Waterloo East Theatre, London – until 21 October 2018
David Kent’s new musical has some good ideas musically – but it needs better character development and a stronger book to make it completely enjoyable.
All writers will be able to sympathise with Trevor in this lightly entertaining new musical when it comes to having writer’s block. The only thing is in Trevor’s case he is able to start a novel (in many different genres) but completing them is a different matter thanks to his full-time job and his love for his colleague Susie – despite his muses trying to help. But all is not lost thanks to the subtly evil intentions of Liberty, who takes Trevor down a different path than he was expecting.
The further the audience is drawn into David Kent’s new musical, the more apparent the basis of the story is based on the legend of Faust, who sells his soul to the devil. It has a ‘be careful what you wish for’ message at the heart of it that is made particularly apparent as Trevor begins to fight back against Liberty’s control, leading to potentially sinister consequences. But somehow, the characters and the story don’t come across as nearly engaging enough to be wholly satisfying to the point that you don’t really care whether Trevor regains control over his life.
Directed by Susan Raasay, Liberty Rides Forth is particularly fun to watch during the musical numbers, with ‘Muses on a Mission’ and ‘The Night of My Life’ highlighting Kent’s attention to detail lyrically. It is during the songs that the production really feels relaxed and natural. In contrast, the script becomes a little bit over the top and carried away when the characters are in conversation that it loses focus – particularly as Trevor’s novel begins to take shape.
It has to be said that Raasay’s production is entertaining, allowing the audience to just sit back and have fun and it is clear that all involved have had a lot of fun putting it together. It is perhaps just a shame that the book and characterisations are still in need of work to give the cast more to work with.
William Hazell as Trevor is likeable but needs to provide a stronger characterisation – particularly when Trevor begins to find his own way and challenges Liberty, there just doesn’t seem to be enough development into the personal journey that he goes on to give him the courage to stand up for what he believes in. Dereck Walker as Liberty has plenty of charm which makes the audience even forget that she is actually the villain of the show. Meanwhile, Georgie Faith, Chloe Rice and Emma Scott as the muses have lovely harmonies that are a pleasure to listen to, while their characterisations are well grounded and natural.
Overall, Liberty Rides Forth is a bit of mixed bag. There is plenty of potential in the music and lyrics that is clear that David Kent has given a lot of thought to – but he does need to work on the other components to make this thoroughly enjoyable.
By Emma Clarendon
Liberty Rides Forth continues to play at the Waterloo East Theatre until the 21st October. For more information visit:https://www.waterlooeast.co.uk/liberty-rides-forth.