Park Theatre, London – until 23 October 2016
This new British musical examines what happens if you can’t get everything that you want in life, as seen through the eyes of one couple under pressure from society’s expectations.
So I have something in common with Izzy. Both of us love the glamour of Breakfast at Tiffany’s or as Jonesy puts it the film “with the prozzie with the wet pussy” but also the fact that society puts pressure on us to achieve certain things in life. In Izzy and Jonesy’s case it is having a baby.
This brand new musical written and directed by Michael Yale is about ordinary people and their lives, looking beyond the countless selfies and status updates to reveal the real pressures behind the images of the ‘public profile’ lives that we lead.
On the surface of it all, Izzy and Jonesy seem to have it all. The ideal relationship, a home (even if it is on the small side) and great jobs – yet underneath this there is growing pressure on them to become parents, believing that it is the last piece in the puzzle. Yet when a tragedy strikes that threatens to tear the pair apart, it reveals the flaws in the other person that is heartbreaking to witness.
While the plot itself will make audiences aware that although on the surface you might envy someone else’s life but you don’t understand what is going on behind closed doors, Charlie Round-Turner’s music feels a little bit too straight forward and to the point, spelling out everything too much which means that there can be a lack of sincerity in the lyrics – particularly when Margaret (Caroline Deverill) sings about letting her son go and grow up.
But there is plenty to be fun to be had thanks to songs such as ‘Just One More’ -which might not have purpose in relation to the story but is brilliantly performed by the cast, providing a lot of laughs, while ‘Hey Prince Charming’ is sweet, romantic and quirky.
As Izzy becomes more obsessed with becoming a mother, putting additional pressure on Jonesy (who has problems of his own), the split between the couple’s ideas of what they want in the future is beautifully unfolded in one big tragedy, which shows how they cope with tragedy differently and well portrayed by not only the actors in the central roles but the other members of the cast, playing a variety of characters who they interact with.
Greg Barnett has plenty to offer in the form of Raphael the barista and bartender with a sharp and comical performance that works in perfect contrast with Caroline Deverill’s Tina, who stands for no nonsense and very upfront about her feelings. The pair play a variety of other characters that showcase their talent for changing personalities at a moment’s notice and are a constant delight to watch.
Kate Batter’s Izzy grows increasingly obsessed with becoming a mother that at times can be difficult to sympathise with as she is unaware of her actions affecting her relationship and life, particularly the moment when she is consulting her fertility chart, but unaware of Jonsey . It is a finely tuned performance filled with anxiety and pain at covering up her true emotions from Jonesy. In contrast, James Robinson’s portrayal of Jonesy is of someone who might seem to know what he wants but when something throws it off course then he is more likely to make a mistake as we find out.
Michael Yale’s production is sensitive and crammed full of ideas, but this means that the overall feel of the production is left unfinished. What was the purpose of having a couple of swingers involved? what was the thinking behind that? But there are some fabulously sharp and witty lines to be enjoyed, complemented by strong performances by Greg Barnett and Caroline Deverill.
This Little Life of Mine plays at the Park Theatre until the 29th October. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/this-little-life-of-mine