Bunker Theatre, London – until 7 January 2017
“When I’m with you, normal rules don’t apply”... I have to admit that seeing pop-rock on the description of a show always gives me a little pause, my preference always tending towards a genteel piano and strings arrangement when it comes to my musical theatre. So it was a pleasure to discover that I really enjoyed Tim Prottey-Jones and Tori Allen-Martin‘s score for Muted, a musical previously known as After The Turn while in development by Interval Productions.
And it is a fascinating show too, with a book by Sarah Henley which unfolds around the story of Michael, a young musician on the verge of a big break whose life is shattered when his mother is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Rendered mute by the loss and under the care of his uncle, his life only begins to show signs of restarting when an ex-girlfriend comes to visit and we see just how much the death reverberated around this group of people.
Muted is tender and thoughtful, beautifully reflective in the way it probes into the different ways in which we grieve. And it uses its structure well in this production directed by Jamie Jackson at the Bunker Theatre below the Menier, songs are less about narrative propulsion but saying what the characters don’t yet have the emotional articulacy to say out loud. David Leopold‘s Michael may be mute but he’s given gorgeous voice by his younger self played by Edd Campbell Bird.
Personally, I’d’ve liked the ending to play out a little less abruptly, a little more messily – it never feels like a show that needs a tidy conclusion. And design-wise, Sarah Beaton’s work feels a little abstractly disconnected from the material (though I believe a crisis with the set in the afternoon had affected this evening’s performance a little). But a uniformly strong company including Jos Slovick, Helen Hobson, Mark Hawkins and Allen-Martin herself