Saturday, 20 September 2014

REVIEW: Long Story Short at the Charing Cross Theatre

Billed as a play for anyone who lives in a world dominated by technology, Long Story Short felt surprisingly dated dealing with the fast-paced world of news via social media.
Focusing on the blurred line between news and entertainment, ratings versus real life and real people, the show centred on Neil (Tom Gordon) recalling his struggle with editorial decisions and control, whilst interwoven stories of Red (Kevin Phelan) and Jamie (Cole Edwards) dealt with the battle of giving audiences the news they want at any cost.
Tom Gordon was commanding and believable in his role of newsroom lynchpin Neil and his scenes surrounded by his colleagues were some of the strongest in the production. Cole Edwards gave an energetic, if not hyperbolic performance as wayward youngster Jamie, who craved information on his missing brother serving in Afghanistan. The cast all worked hard as an ensemble and while the choreographed movement was strong and slick, it was an overused making the play seem repetitive in a world where no two days or news stories are meant to be the same. 

The main fault with this production was the text; which was predictable and preachy at times and opted to drive a message than act a vehicle for character development. The problem was that the message wasn’t as fresh or contemporary as Squint Theatre would like to think. Perhaps when the show was first developed it was, but the audience already know the cut-throat world of tabloid newspapers and are familiar with our insatiable appetite for news. It neither taught us anything or shocked us. 
It didn’t take long for us to suss out where the story was going, and the characters were not interesting or three dimensional enough to make you care for them, which meant we were left cold and detached; not invested in the story or those in it.
Musically the show was bold and dynamic and Jay Jones’ sound design and Rhys Lewis’ composition providing a source of energy throughout. The only musical misstep was the vocal track towards the middle of the show. Whilst sung beautifully by Louisa Roberts, this was the only non-instrumental track used and this really jarred at a point it really didn’t need to or have any impact. 

Full marks for the bravely up to date references of the Scottish vote, but this production offered little in the way of memorable moments. An adequate chance for its cast to show off their skills, but a stronger script and story would have helped them more. 
Review by Andy Edmeads 

Rating ★★
Long Story Short plays at the Charing Cross Theatre until 15th October 2014 

Cast Includes: Kevin Phelan, Cole Edwards, Louisa Roberts, Cliodhna McCorley, Tom Gordon, Fern McCauley, Eva-Jane Willis. Director: Andrew Whyment, Production Designer: Georgia De Grey, Lighting Designer: Aaron J. Dootson, Composer: Rhys Lewis.

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