Wednesday, 6 August 2014

REVIEW | Grim: a New Musical at the Charing Cross Theatre

Grim: A New Musical made its premiere at the Rose Theatre in Kingston before transferring to the Charing Cross Theatre, opening on the 4th August and running until the 30th August 2014.

Its about the Grim Reaper and Cupid falling in love. *cue all the clique jokes*. Set in a school theres jealous, mean girls and an outcast best friend. 

I’d say this is definitely a show in working progress; I feel like this is more a showcase of a workshop rather than a professional production. Theres a lot of issues in this show that need to be ironed out. Its too ambitious and the cast of 23 is just far too big! They drowned out the stage and a lot of the scenes lost the intensity that they needed. Less is more and in a small space like the Charing Cross Theatre you don’t need to fill it. The storyline could have been a lot more effective if the audience felt a more intimate feel.

It doesn’t know what it wants to be. The show goes in so many different directions and none of the characters nor the story have time to develop and make the audience feel something. I want to watch characters that I can feel for and everything in this show just moved too quickly and had too much going on that I couldn’t focus my attention.

Walking into the auditorium and seeing people lined up at the sides in black cloaks instantly sets a mood. I was creeped out, mainly because I have a thing about scary audience interaction, but it set the mood for what was about to come. Now, this ‘thing’ that was coming, never came. The show wasn’t creepy in any sense. I wasn’t scared and I wasn’t afraid. So this mood setting technique at the beginning was completely irrelevant. The show isn’t creepy, so why try and make it something its not? 

The book, which has been written by Fiona O’ Malley, is ok. It needs tightening up in a lot of places but its funny at times and imaginative. The music has a few high points, but it also has low points. The repeating and singing of the word ‘Death’ at the beginning and end almost got to the point that is was, and I hate to say it, laughable. When you walk out of the theatre you don’t remember the good songs because all you’ve got ringing in your head is the chanting of DEATH DEATH DEATH DEATH in your head. However it has a lot of nice moments, at times it emulates Matilda and A Nightmare Before Christmas. 

Adam Wolleton’s direction is ambitious and, at times, messy. The show didn’t have a clear direction to go in. Is this a material or a direction issue? I’m not sure. 

The inexperience of this team does shine through and you do leave with the feeling you’ve seen an am-dram production in your local Church Hall. 

At times, the choreography was over done. When you have a good song and two good singers, why have an interpretive dance going on in the back? However I have a feeling that if you put that on a west end stage it would be very effective. In a 265 seat theatre, maybe not so much. Adam Jay-Price and Sam Lathwood have done very well with what they’ve been given. But, again, less is more.

The cast is filled with young talent, Roseanna Christoforou has a beautiful voice and handles the material with a lot of intelligence and responsibility. As the title character, she shines through as the star of this production. Anthony Matteo sings wonderfully in this production, I can’t say he’s exactly what I’d have envisioned for the role of Cupid but he does it well. Jordan Veloso is another person who stuck out to me, a performer who is one to keep your eye on. I’d also like to make a special mention to Kathryn Rutherford who plays Cherry, fantastic vocals and wonderful acting skills. We’ll be seeing more of her in the future. 

Within the ensemble, I couldn’t take my eyes off Eleanor Palmer and Sam Lathwood, They danced magically together. 

I think they creative team may need to head back to the drawing board and figure out exactly what they want this to be. Considering its title, its not totally Grim to watch. But very am dram. I love supporting new theatre but there was a lot missing from this show. Hopefully we’ll see it come back in the future, the show has a lot of potential and with more experience this creative team will be putting on shows people won’t want to miss. 

Rating: ★★

Cast includes: Roseanna Chirstoforou, Anthony Matteo, Georgi Mottram, Jordan Veloso, Izzy Roy, Kathryn Rutherford, Rhiannon Drake, Louisa Cameron, Karina Toolan, Kelly Renders, Katherine Green, Kirsty Bascombe, Emily Little, Eleanor Palmer, Jade Jordan, Adam Jay-Price, Sam Lathwood, Kieran Kuypers, Graham Hope, Matthew Overfield, Samuel Morgan Grahame, Tristan Hyde & Andrew Binns. 

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