EFR - Reviews of Like Clockwork

Ellie Bartram

at 15:51 on 20th Aug 2016

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‘Like Clockwork’, a musical by University of Nottingham students, portrays the story of a student named Grace who inherits her Aunt’s talking clock. This clock is, apparently, the physical embodiment of time.

The play is advertised as children’s theatre suitable for all ages, but it is unclear at times whether this production is actually written for children. This is only reinforced by the fact that there are merely three in the audience. Unfortunately, this leads much of the show’s energy to be lost on the older members of the audience who struggle to appreciate the panache of the show’s melodramatic style.

However, ‘Like Clockwork’ certainly has a lot of potential: the production is highly energetic and credit is due here. The cast display an almost unwavering enthusiasm on stage, which comes across with particular strength during moments of song. I can easily understand why this style of performance could be popular with a younger audience.

If anything, the cast seem held back by an uninspiring script. The characters of Joe (Laurence Cuthbert) and Pim (Charlotte Howarth) seem quite one-dimensional: Joe, a disorganised university student, and Pim, a spoilt young woman looking for a boyfriend to fund her lavish lifestyle as her Father once did. The tone of the play becomes slightly monotonous towards the end, and time starts to drag. The style of song and dance seems repetitive, whilst the facial expressions of the actors seem drained. I begin to wish The Clock’s power of manipulating time could transcend the stage, although this doesn’t last long as the show is thankfully once again saved by its music. Musical director Emma Kennedy is one of the play’s biggest assets, and her songs host some of the show’s most enjoyable moments.

Overall, the energy of the cast should be admired: efforts to bring their characters to life may be seen clearly throughout and it is a shame that they are let down by the script. Grace (Amy Foden) and The Clock (Thomas Outhwaite) add most to the performance, their musical ability outshining the remainder of the cast. However the talent of the other cast members cannot be entirely dismissed: the initial alliances of Grace and The Clock against Joe and Pim are dynamic, and the cast share a certain chemistry on stage.

This production is personally not for me. However, its lighthearted comedy seems much better suited to a younger audience, and has the potential to be great entertainment for a family-oriented group.

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Laura Whetherly

at 21:10 on 20th Aug 2016

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'Like Clockwork'’s flyer proudly proclaims that it a musical for “children and adults of all ages!”, complete with chirpy exclamation point. Unfortunately, this production is proof that writing a show (particularly an original musical) which appeals to adults and children alike is extremely difficult, and unfortunately 'Like Clockwork' fails to deliver on its initial promise.

The musical takes place over the course of an afternoon in the messy apartment shared by Grace (the heroine) and Joe (her law student flatmate). When Grace inherits a mysterious grandfather clock from her great aunt, kooky antics and a bombardment of songs ensue, all the way up until she snares the boy of her dreams.

Sadly, the high-energy song and dance numbers are let down by the fact that, of the cast of four, only two are strong singers, and only one can dance. Even if this is a children’s show, watching cast members bounding aimlessly across the stage out of time with the music and each other is cringeworthy rather than appealingly energetic.

The performance does have some redeeming features – Thomas Outhwaite as the clock is a funny, engaging performer, and Amy Foden (playing Grace) has a beautiful voice which is showcased in her solo pieces. However, the cast as a whole are not particularly cohesive, and the production is hobbled by an uninspired and uninspiring script and score.

A good children’s show is solidly aimed at children, perhaps with a few jokes aimed at the adults in the audience, and gets its appeal through really top-quality performers who can carry the production. Sadly, 'Like Clockwork' has neither the performances nor the script to appeal to as wide an audience as it wants to. In the performance we watch, there are only about three children in the audience, none of whom look particularly impressed by the show either. The plot of 'Like Clockwork' is rambling – ultimately it’s about the girl getting the boy, but for much of the show there are no clear plot points or exciting discoveries, just a series of forgettable songs.

Children’s theatre can be fantastic, and is an important contribution to the Fringe as a whole. However, this is not a good example of children’s theatre, and instead comes across as under-rehearsed and a little confused. Not worth the price of the ticket.

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