EFR - Reviews of Homemade Fusion

Homemade Fusion

Wed 3rd – Mon 29th August 2011

reviews

Natalya Din-Kariuki

at 11:07 on 18th Aug 2011

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In Short Productions' "Homemade Fusion" is a collection of compositions by Michael Kooman and Christopher Diamond; the songs touch upon an array of themes and emotions, including love, talent, dreams and BDSM (!), and are performed by a cast which sing like heavenly beings.

The cast perform with finesse, professionalism and conviction, and the production's comedic moments have the audience doubling up with laughter. In "Sherman and Madeleine", Charlotte Mason-Apps hilariously complains about her husband's lack of daring in bed, while in "Oh Henry!" Dina Mahdi lusts over vending machine chocolates. A particular favourite was "The Temp and the Receptionist", in which Jamie Noar and Christina Tedders enjoy the ultimate office romance.

However, because of the structure of the musical - a set of disparate story-lines - the production lacks plot progression and well-developed characters, rarely giving the cast the chance to shine in areas other than song. The contrasting, rapidly oscillating tone of separate story-lines - and the order of the song sequences - is occasionally jarring. All six actors beautifully come together at particular points of the performance, each declaring "This is who I am". They work so well together that it is a shame that individual story-lines were not more consistently woven together, or the actors brought together using devices such as tableaux for greater visual impact. I have no doubt that the group - and Kooman and Diamond as composer and lyricist - would successfully rise to the challenge if given more complex characters and sections of monologue and dialogue. This production feels more like a talent showcase than a coherent piece of musical theatre. However, this is nonetheless a gifted, all-star cast well worth the seeing (and more importantly, hearing); at moments it is difficult to remember that they are not yet a professional cast.

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Fen Greatley

at 11:26 on 18th Aug 2011

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One of the most memorable and impressive shows I saw last year was 'Edges', a rip-roaringly good musical dealing with young people and their everyday concerns. It was thus with great anticipation of what was to come that I took my seat for this already much-hyped performance.

Mid-Fringe, voices were understandably beginning to go a little; this can be forgiven. Certainly the opening song, “I Will be Me” bowled us over from the first klaxon.

I know musicals and I love musicals. It's sadly the case that I have to say this doesn't really qualify as a musical. It is much easier to pen fourteen songs on a certain theme than it is to write a musical, and these songs are barely even loosely connected, not telling any kind of story. This becomes problematic when there is no narrative of any kind outside of the songs.

The lack of narrative means that there can't be any development of character, and indeed we see the cast assume different characters in different songs anyway. No interaction means little to no acting, besides that which is self-contained within a song; this is a concert we're watching.

Each song concerns itself with romantic feelings of various natures. Some deal with more mainstream, commonplace issues such as workplace crushes, while some are slightly more eyebrow-raising, to do with love for confectionary or unwitting objects of affection (“Oh Henry!”; “To Excess”).

They lyrics are all cutesy and provoke many a laugh (“God this feeling's so right / I could fax you all night.”); the best songs are pulled off by those with great charisma. Adam Fletcher's “To Excess” does this well, a more performative piece. This does mean, though, that some of the other songs are less interesting and a something of a dud – the slower, more balladesque ones fall into this category: beautifully sung but just that.

Dina Mahdi and Fred Ward stood out as the clear stars of the show, especially if we judge based solely on vocals. Mahdi's voice is simply stunning and she engages well with the audience. Ward put me in mind of a more talented, sexier Darren Criss. His natural vibrato is amazing and his tone woos us instantly.

The show is massively impressive and I don't think the three-star rating should put anyone off going to see it – quite the opposite, I'm very glad that I saw this – I just would like to see more effort put into next year's offering, since they have arguably the most vocally able cast at the Fringe.

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