Company

Company is a musical so of its time that a string of directors over the past decade have struggled with the problem of whether to present it as an unchanged period piece or contemporise it in some fashion. The former option runs the risk of presenting a book that simply doesn’t resonate with a modern audience and the latter choice is hampered by tight licensing restrictions that forbid taking a hatchet to the author’s original work.

If they had microphones I’m pretty sure this could have been a very interesting interpretation of Company indeed.

With Company, our main protagonist is a womaniser just hitting his 30th birthday and still not married. Something that may have raised an eyebrow back in the 70s, but today it’s more surprising that this was even a ‘thing’.

The Lincoln Company have taken a pretty bold approach. Almost. Bobby is now a girl, Bobbi. Her love interests are two girls and a boy, Kathy – an ex-girlfriend who she had nearly married, but Kathy is now moving away; April – a dumb air hostess who is Bobbi’s one night stand that doesn’t leave; and Mark (Martha in the original) – a sassy New Yorker who comes across as a little too street-smart for Bobbi.

Then there are Bobbi’s friends. The couples who surround her and explore her fear of commitment while dissecting their dysfunctional relationships. Again the Lincoln Company have switched up the genders with two male/female couples and two same sex ones. Joanne and Larry are mature, but jaded; Paul and Amy are long-term, but Amy is terrified of actually marrying Paul; Peter and Sam are married, comfortable in each other’s company, but planning to divorce; and finally Harriet and Sarah both teasing each other for their vices and constantly fighting.

How do the Lincoln company manage to deal with the anachronisms in the script that conflict with a milestone that same sex marriage has only been legal in the US since 2015? Well they don’t, they simply ignore it. Which I could forgive them for if there weren’t some glaring choices that then don’t make sense. Why make Peter and Susan, the couple planning to divorce, Peter and Sam? It suggests their marriage really has been short (since 2015); and the cosying up to each other implies they weren’t really taking the commitment very seriously anyway. Martha – now Mark – becomes such a gay man in that character it’s stretching the believability index somewhat that he could be in a relationship with Bobbi at all.


But this isn’t the biggest flaw of the show. It’s actually the technical side that lets it down. C scala is a big room (400+ seats), but for this show the backing is a single piano with the volume just a little too loud and no amplification for the cast. When I could hear them, they were great – but most of the time they were lost in the accompaniment. It’s a shame, because if they had microphones I’m pretty sure this could have been a very interesting interpretation of Company indeed. 

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Assembly George Square Studios

The House

★★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Grace Notes

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

The Jungle Book

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

A Midsummer Night's Dream

★★★★
Multiple Venues

A Spoonful Of Sherman

★★★★★
Pleasance Theatre

Assassins

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

At the age of 25, Bobbi should be finding the one. When her friends aren't fighting or lying to their soulmates they worry about their poor baby, Bobbi. She's all alone. To her, commitment is unthinkable; constantly sharing, caring, compromising would be insufferable. But every day she finds it harder to justify the single life she used to enjoy. Sondheim’s masterpiece about New York’s most eligible bachelor is remixed for the 21st century. The first concept musical is transformed into a story of modern loneliness, independence and self-discovery. Regardless of who we love, don’t we all still need company?