Saturday, 23 February 2013

More like 54 seconds in a lift...

'We all have the ability to communicate, to learn and to love and yet we share the most intimate spaces in lifts, on trains and in life every day, as if we're strangers who share nothing' 
- Craig Adams and Ian Watson 

About 3 years ago when I first heard 'Lost In Translations' performed at the Edinburgh Fringe my curiosity about Lift the musical began. I was at the peak of my musical obsession, and had seen a fair amount of shows, but no track grabbed me as much as this one did. Fast forward to February 2013 where I sat in the bar of the Soho Theatre, waiting patiently for the house to open.

It's difficult to sum up what this show is about. I can imagine everyone to take something different away with them, but for me this was about life. Not the Hollywood version we see in movies and read in books, but real life. That part of yourself you don't want anyone to see being laid bare. The story follows 7 characters and is set in the lift at Covent Garden tube station. We see how they interact (or in some cases do not interact) with each other, and what could happen if they only took a minute to realise the possibilites for new connections are endless.

The Soho theatre is the perfect venue for Lift. It's a really intimate space which makes you feel like you are part of the production. The set, while simplistic is very effective, with a lot of the tube movement being created by body movement. There are moveable poles which are used not only as the structure of the lift but also to show a change in scene.

The book  (written by Ian Watson) is very modern and relevant with great comedic timing. The characters are written and performed so well that I found myself relating to them all at some point during the show, which is pretty rare. The music (by Craig Adams) is unlike anything I have ever heard before. I already have a post dedicated to the album here with my thoughts in more detail. This is very much an ensemble piece, and it's difficult to single out one performer, but Cynthia Erivo's rendition of 'It's Been a Year' was simply stunning. So believable and raw and left me with a lump in my throat. 

It's so refreshing to see something so different being created in theatre. This definitely needs to transfer or tour and I think we need more shows like it.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Glasgow Girls - Review

There are some musicals that you go to see to escape real life, then there are those that make you want to change it. The National Theatre of Scotland's latest production, Glasgow Girls is definitely the latter. Fresh from its run at the Citizens Theatre, the show is currently taking London's East End by storm. 

Written by David Greig and directed by Cora Bissett, 'Glasgow Girls' tells the story of 7 girls - Emma, Agnesa, Ewelina, Amal, Jennifer and Roza – from Drumchapel High School, who leap into action when faced with the injustice of Agnesa and her family being ripped from their home in a dawn raid. This sparks a campaign about the treatment of asylum seekers and the moral issues surrounding detention centres in Scotland. 

The impressive set made to look like high rise flats is effective and the cast is packed to the brim with talent, who all excel in the physical and emotional demands this show expects. Special mention to Myra McFadyen and Dawn Sievewright for their stand out performances as loveable Red Row resident Noreen and headstrong Glasgow teen Jennifer. 

The music - featuring original songs from Cora Bissett, Soom T, Patricia Panther and the Kielty Brothers - is a real treat. From folk music to grime there's something for everyone. 
My personal favourites are the harrowing 'Cuff You' and the upbeat 'We're at Home in Glasgow' where I grin from start to end with pride and love for my city.  

This is definitely a story that had to be told. It set out to challenge views and opinions - and that it has. This is one of the best shows I have ever seen and I would urge you to catch it before the end of the run.