The Outlier, Scotland
REVIEW: MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
POSTED BY ANTONY SAMMEROFF ON AUG 8, 2017
BB Theatre Productions
C (Venue 34) 8 – 12 Aug 2017
(4 / 5)
“What do you do?” “I drink!” “But what do you really do?” “I really drink!”
The public love Frank… his ex-wife and old friends are not so sure. He was once more motivated by passion than money and success and Merrily… takes a backwards stroll through his life to reveal the humble beginnings, when friendship took precedence over the public eye.
Merrily… is a movie of many touching moments sprinkled with the lyrical prowess of Stephen Sondheim, one of musical theatre’s greatest songwriters. Like Company, upon which he also collaborated with George Furth, the show hints at some deep philosophical issues surrounding our priorities in life.
There are some startling performances. Lucy Smith as Beth, Frank’s first wife, has a most rousing voice, and Emma Carver transcends with ultimate sass as Gussy – his second wife who now finds herself in the position she put his first in, watching him chase a younger model. There were some technical difficulties around sound and the portrayal of Frank was sometimes somewhat laboured, while the show could benefit from a more natural feel. The book rather whittles out than ends. Nonetheless the overall experience is most enjoyable, a stand out song – Frank Shepard Inc. – amusingly satirises the busy lifestyle of busy Frank taking constant interruptions from his writing partner Charlie who becomes unhinged and increasingly dissatisfied with his increasing lack of availability.
Review from Edinburgh preview performances at The Wilde Theatre, Southhill Park 10 and 11 July 2017
Merrily We Roll Along
South Hill Park
SONDHEIM’S Merrily We Roll Along is a musical that has attracted audiences for more than 30 years, depicting the lives of three best friends starting from the present
day and going backwards in time. The musical emphasises the importance of friendship, as well as touching on darker themes such as unrequited love, infidelity and the brutality of showbusiness.
BB Theatre Productions’ performance at South Hill Park made use of a mostly bare stage, the only props being numbers scattered around the stage with four at the front telling us the year to convey the passing of time and an old piano. This allowed the singing and acting to truly shine through, with some standout performances from TJ Lloyd (Charley), Emma Carver (Gussie) and Lucy Smith (Beth).
Although there are many upbeat numbers, the reprise of Not A Day Goes By included a heart-wrenching trio, with particular poignancy from Sian Price-Marshall’s (Mary) performance.
TJ Lloyd deserves another mention for bringing such outstanding comedy to his role, while conveying the struggles of his partnership with Frank (Jack Stark) with great sincerity.
If you are at Edinburgh Fringe this summer, this is definitely not a production to be missed.
THE WOKINGHAM PAPER
Thursday, July 13, 2017