Tuesday, 8 October 2019

REVIEW: tick, tick... BOOM! at The Bridge House Theatre


Before there was ‘RENT’, there was ‘tick tick... BOOM!’. Jonathan Larson, the genius writer who changed the shape of the modern musical, wrote ‘tick tick... BOOM’ created this autobiographical musical about an aspiring composer, aptly named Jon, in 1990, living in New York and struggling with his career choice. It was originally performed by Jonathan as a solo piece of work. It wasn’t until after his death in 1996, when it was revamped by playwright David Auburn and turned into the three hander that is currently on display at The Bridgehouse Theatre. 

Directed by Guy Retallack and lead by Alex Lodge, this musical is a 90 minute, no-interval, whirlwind that will please your ears and your eyes but leave your bum a little numb when it’s done. The venue is small and slightly uncomfortable but nonetheless a great stage for a musical such as this. It’s limited set allowed the actors more space to work and gave the appropriate ‘New York apartment in the 90’s’ feel. It was complimented by a beautiful lighting design, flawlessly executed by Richard Williamson. It’s rare that you see such slick transitions in venues outside of the West End. The sound design by Phil Lee was minimal yet impressive. However, in a venue that doesn’t require the actors to wear microphones, I feel the levels of the bad were slightly too tentative. In this case, unnecessarily, as all three actors voices could easily soar over the top of a louder backing. 

The three actors; Alex Lodge, Georgie Ashford and James Hume all gave beautiful, believable performances. However, Alex Lodge was particularly captivating. His accent was absolutely flawless, his vocals were beautiful (particularly his falsetto) and he was so easy to fall in love with and relate to at the same time. His talents were kept coming as he sat down at the piano to accompany himself on ‘Why’ and then again at the beginning of ‘Louder Than Words’. A true artist. 

When the cast sang together, the harmonies were tight and unapologetic, no matter how ‘clashy’. Their voices blended well together even with no amplification. 

The direction by Guy Retallack was understated and clever and easily allowed the audience to keep up with the character switches with Ashford and Hume. Paired with movement by Paul Harris, the 90 minutes seamlessly passed with hardly any awkward pauses or moments for the mind to drift. Something which is hard to do without a big budget production to fill the gaps.

I think it is so important to support Off West End theatres such as The Bridge
House. It allows for a truly creative and artistic space to create magical piece of theatre that may not get a further life in the bright lights but still deserve to be seen and have their stories told. If and when you go to see tick tick... BOOM!, please take some spare change to donate at the end of the show. 

If you like RENT, and let’s face it - who doesn’t?, then you must go and see tick tick... BOOM! before it closes on October 27th. It’s a wonderful, insightful and painfully relatable for any creative soul and just a bunch of eargasms for everyone else. Well worth it, I say! 

Review by Lucas Wang

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Unreserved | Price of Ticket: £18
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