View Post

NEWS: Cast announced for UK tour of Sunny Afternoon

In London theatre, Musicals, News, Press Releases, Regional theatre, Touring by Emma ClarendonLeave a Comment

While the multi-Olivier award winning musical continues to play for London audiences in the West End, casting has been confirmed for the UK tour, which opens at the Manchester Opera House on the 19th August.  Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, the hit musical looks at the life and career of The Kinks, featuring some of […]

View Post

PARADE – Manchester

In Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

As musicals go, Jason Robert Brown’s Parade is a tough gig. His Tony-winning score is an immense fusion of the sounds of America’s South, tackling a monstrous story of love in adversity and the utter depths of man’s capacity to hate. The Leo Frank trial in the early 20th century split America, laying bare the racist core of the Confederacy. 80 years later, Brown’s show was to become a troubling piece that held a mirror to its country’s soul – a mirror that to this day a large part of that nation still resolutely refuses to look in.

THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY – Drayton Arms Theatre, London

In London theatre, Musicals, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Drayton Arms Theatre, London

***

Music & lyrics by Neil Bartram
Book by Brian Hill
Directed by Christopher Lane

Jodie Steele, Simon Bailey, Natasha Karp
It’s a brave conceit to fuse art with science and one that The RSC only recently pulled off with their stunning Oppenheimer, analysing the atomic bomb’s evolution. On a more modest level, The Theory of Relativity seeks to link Einstein’s eponymous theory with the human condition. That the show’s final monologue (delivered it must be said, via a brilliant performance from Jodie Steele) seeks to play on the rather tortuous wordplay of “the speed of light” vs “the speed of life” offers a hint at how shallow this show’s thesis turns out to be. As an exercise in modern metaphysics The Theory of Relativity turns out to be little more than a sometimes flawed song-cycle, albeit one that showcases some top notch performance work.
The always excellent Simon Bailey leads the company as a quirky geek, in a character who also offers the one strand of chuckle-worthy humour with a recurring motif that gradually takes the value of pi to an increasing number of decimals. Bailey brings a precision to both his vocal and physical presence that lifts the show – with a beautifully resonant tone.
Steele’s presence matches Bailey – with a vocal belt and a poignant lyric that also defines her as an actor of considerable merit.
Elsewhere, Natasha Karp is a strong neurotic and Ina Marie Smith has a pleasing presence too – though for the writers, in 2013 no less, to have been making fun of size 16 women and OCD is offensive. A number intriguingly titled Apples and Oranges hinted perhaps at a foray into Newtonian physics? Alas, it was merely a trite and patronising nod towards diversity. 
Set above a pub and with a noisy air conditioning unit, the shallow raked audience placed end-on to the action demands a vocal strength in the company’s projected voice work that isn’t always achieved. More work is needed here, certainly in the show’s softer moments.
Musically, MD Barney Ashworth, occasionally accompanied by actor-muso Andrew Gallo on guitar, delivers an impressive shift on the keyboard. 
Put together on what appears to be a micro-budget even for London’s fringe, The Theory of Relativity is a one act work that drags – and if you struggled with maths and physics at school, there are no easy answers here. That being said, it offers a hard working troupe in action and to catch a close up glimpse of some of our nation’s finest young performers, then fans, producers and casting directors should head to SW5.

Runs until 13th June

Picture credit: Poppy Carter Portraits at www.poppycarterportraits.com