The Local

Sometimes, all a show needs to be good is to be simple and earnestly performed. This is not one of those times. The Local needs a lot of work to be anything more than an attempt to put a modern trend of local alehouses closing into song. Even if it’s done with a smile and with a lot of positive energy, forced conflict combined with a lack of polished vocals meant that this show didn’t have the staying power necessary to save itself.

As agreeable as it is, more polish and substance is needed to make it a show that’s anything beyond that.

In a town somewhere in England, a pub is being closed. Liz, who’s owned a pub most of her life, is feeling the pressure when her pub is meant to be sold to a developer. However, the regulars band together and stand behind her, and try to fight the forces of modernisation. The story of this show, for the most part, feels like a very special episode of an American sitcom, where people examine real world issues through a fuzzy lens. People come in and out of the door with a new problem, sometimes to do with the campaign, sometimes with their personal life, which they all discuss and explain through song. The problem is that these conflicts are rarely set up properly. For example, after a rousing song where everyone shouts about their love for the pub, one of the regulars, Robbie, is kicked out for an event that occurs offstage. This creates tension, but it doesn’t feel natural. This is seen across the show: Martin’s job, Sue and Liz’s fight, and every other conflict seems to pop up out of nowhere without any forethought.

The other major problem with this show is the music. It is almost entirely lacking in percussion, which for the most part removes the driving force of the songs and also prevents many of the cast from staying on rhythm. In addition, vocals are unpolished and most of the performers seem uneasy and uncomfortable with the songs. This makes the show seem that much less confident in its delivery.

This show is charming and likeable but that can only take it so far. It’s hard to look at the cast, who seem and act like people who genuinely love their corner pub and say that they’ve not made, at the very least, an inoffensive, agreeable musical. But as agreeable as it is, more polish and substance is needed to make it a show that’s anything beyond that. 

Reviews by Miles Hurley

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Liz has managed her pub for over 15 years, only to be told that it's been sold to a property developer who plans to shut it down and put her out of a job. With her regulars, Liz starts a campaign to save her pub, but can she beat a system that's beaten so many before? A new musical about community, change and the demise of the Great British pub.