As Told By productions in collaboration with Greenwich Theatre have brought a new piece of musical theatre to Fringe this year. This show succeeds in wowing the audience with its sheer passion, despite being initially challenging to understand.
The show, written by Ryan Scott Oliver, is based around the photography of Matthew Murphy. Using the concept of moments in time captured on film Oliver has written a sequence of songs each inspired by the photographs. Each song expressed and explored human emotion through life’s journey.
The production is very much akin to Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World; both shows don't have a defined storyline but are song cycles which have disparate stories told through the music. This method works for this show as it allows each photograph to be fully explored through the songs whilst the picture itself is projected onto the back of the stage.
Moving through musical styles including pop, soul, gospel and R&B the five talented cast members are each given their moment to shine. However, the true highlights are when they all work together to produce quite stunning five-part harmonies which echo around the vaulted ceilings of the Bedlam Theatre.
Stylish piano playing from musical director Michael Riley is augmented with percussion from Richard Burden. However, as it is performed on an electric drum kit it gives a slightly synthetic sound which doesn't help the production.
The two woman in the company, Beth Burrows and Rosie Ward posses powerhouse voices which are put to the test on several occasions as they reach up and belt out some wonderful high notes. The men – Dale Page, Benjamin Powell and Niall Rooney – rise to the challenge and successfully match the standard already set.
With wonderful comic moments that mix pathos and raw emotion, 35mm is an experiment in fringe theatre which is long overdue. It’s about life, living it, enjoying it and embracing it and this cast certainly do that as is evident by the standing ovation they received at the close of the show.
This is musical theatre on top form and it’s bound to sell out.