[Title of Show]

Thu 4th – Thu 25th August 2016

reviews

Laura Whetherly

at 16:27 on 19th Aug 2016

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The only thing worse than a bad musical is a forgettable musical. In '[Title of Show]', the characters happily cavort around stage announcing that they would far prefer to be “nine people’s favourite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favourite thing”, but unfortunately, '[Title of Show]' is utterly unremarkable, and probably will rank as around ninth on my personal 'list of things to see at the Fringe'.

A musical based on the theme of two men sitting down to write a musical is not as original an idea as the author seems to think. The 'kooky' concept is as follows: a theatre festival is being held in three weeks, and our plucky heroes decide on the spur of the moment to come up an original musical to enter into the festival, with the hope of eventually taking it to Broadway. After a few conversations, the most obvious narrative occurs to them; why don’t they write their musical about two guys who have three weeks to come up with a concept for a musical…

This meta approach is novel for the first twenty minutes, but after that, it becomes very weary very quickly. This is one of the longer shows at the Fringe, with a run time of ninety minutes, and towards the end it really starts to drag. After the show is picked up by a producer at the festival, there is still a meandering second act which follows the dip in '[Title of Show]'’s fortunes, and then the final hopeful suggestion that they might reach Broadway – a plot which is difficult to fully follow due to the limited scene changes and repetitive songs.

There is not much in '[Title of Show]' which is obviously poor quality, but similarly there is not much to distinguish it from any other production. The singing is fine, but not outstanding. The acting could do with some work, but the casts’ accents hold up fine and they are believable enough in their roles. The script has some funny moments, but with deeply unoriginal jokes (“He’s straight!” “So is spaghetti until it gets wet,” is a typical example). The parts which are funniest, such as the interactions between the generally-silent keyboard player and the rest of the cast, become increasingly infrequent in the second half, and the end of the show is a relief rather an unwelcome surprise.

Unfortunately, '[Title of Show]' is held back by an uninspiring script and average cast. It is not awful, but an hour and a half is a long time at the Fringe, and unless you have a particularly burning desire to watch a meta musical and creating a musical, there are probably better ways to spend your time.

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Caragh Aylett

at 15:04 on 20th Aug 2016

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Cobbles and Rhymes' musical, '[Title of Show]', presents the concept of a show within a show. While this might not be the most original idea for a piece, it is performed wonderfully by an extremely talented cast. The five actors and musicians transport the audience to their New York apartment and disclose their hopes and dreams.

"We could ask significant questions" sing the cast, but they choose not to do so. This is not necessarily a problem; the piece's narrative is not designed to be complex. It discusses nothing more poignant than putting on a show; it is an idea that can be seen again and again at this year’s Fringe. However, while the narrative is certainly not original or thought provoking it does not diminish the quality of the piece. It is, after all, designed to be a funny, lighthearted and entertaining musical and it certainly succeeds in this goal. As a musical fan, I am consistently impressed by the continuous and subtle references to other musicals. The pop-culture allusions may mean that the piece will not carry into the next decade, but it is certainly amusing in the here and now.

The strongest aspect of the piece is the musical element. The use of an onstage keyboard player who occasionally chats to the cast is a wonderful addition to the performance and really brings the show together. The underscoring throughout scenes enhances the tone of the piece and is a real asset to the play. Equally, the cast’s excellent singing voices are really shown off in this production, and are consistently excellent.

In places, the narrative seems slightly unnatural. The history of the characters is not effectively unpacked; while we learn how they met, there are some back stories that are not tied together (what happened to Suzanne’s wedding?). Equally, while learning that Heidi and Suzanne are not really friends, their onstage chemistry suggests otherwise- a somewhat confusing aspect of the story. Ultimately, investment in the characters is lost slightly when the audience is prevented from learning more about them.

'[Title of Show]' is a wonderful, heartwarming piece of musical theatre. While it might not ask the important questions or be a poignant piece of theatre it is light, enjoyable and brimming with catchy tunes. It is certainly worth a watch.

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