This bitter-sweet musical errs self-consciously on the side of the sweet, providing a Rom Com where everything seems to go right. The bald storylines of Another Way’s six characters don’t give us much to go on – two people fall in love, two people struggle with illness, two people have to choose between artistic integrity and commercial gain – these are certainly stories we’ve seen before. What Another Way does well is to weave these strands together beautifully, and provides achingly tender accompaniment in music by singer-songwriter Benedict. What the show claims to do differently is to push its relentlessly positive agenda, something which Musical Theatre has of course been doing for at least a century, and which feels entirely alien to contemporary experience.
Interval Productions received excellent notices for their last musical at the Cockpit, Streets, which transferred to the Hackney Empire. Director Bo Boland shows how surely his finger is on the pulse of modern Musical Theatre by crafting seamless transitions from scene to song and providing some excellent expressive choreography. I query the opening sequence, a gesture at immersive theatre (in the least true sense) which had the audience kettled on stage for far too long with very little pay-off. The cast were particularly strong, from Matthew Collyer’s shy-but-sweet geek Alex, to the less adorable but equally engaging Bart Edwards as Toby the womaniser. Pitch-wise the vocal lines are consistently astronomical, so it was a welcome relief to hear Ria Cherrelle Horsford’s sultry alto sections as Vivien.
In a strange way this is a jukebox musical, except one in which you probably haven’t heard the music before. Benedict’s song-writing style feels touchingly genuine, although the actors found it difficult to find meaning in heavily repeated phrases, which work on an album but pose problems on stage. I did enjoy Another Way, but despite its emotionally truthful performances, choreography and music, I just couldn’t believe its message of happily ever after.