Creatives

At a college songwriting class in Chicago, an end-of-year competition involves the students performing each other’s anonymous submissions for a celebrity guest judge. It’s like no contest I’ve ever heard of in real life, and there’s something gloriously petty about the characters’ investment in it – it’s all very musical theatre dahling. The book writers seem uncomfortable to leave it that, however, rather feebly upping the stakes by repeatedly emphasising that the prize is five thousand dollars until it takes on shades of RuPaul’s ‘one hundred thousand dollars’ catchphrase.

There’s a lot of interesting material here which could be reworked into something more coherent.

Although a jarring final act pulls the story into much darker territory, Creatives is so bursting with ideas that it’s hard to identify a meaningful thematic throughline. Each student embodies a different stereotype, because musical theatre dahling and this competitive song-swapping has the potential for these to be explored in interesting ways. Insta-famous in particular was an interesting attempt at updating When You've Got It, Flaunt It from The Producers for the Kardashian age. Sex tapes can pay for mortgages now, though I feel obliged to point out that most of them do not.

The cast really sell what they’re given, which is particularly impressive in the case of Jay Cullen as a sort-ofgay village-idiot character and Zoe West as a fake-left butch lesbian. In a way, it’s refreshing to see unlikable portrayals of gay people in a musical. Singing is strong across the board – with Vasily Deris and Martina Isibor standing out for their great voices – though the music and lyrics they sing are mostly unmemorable.

Tyler Fayose is truly magnificent as Sean O’Neil, an obnoxiously smooth, white-friendly hiphop bro. His opening number, On the South Side, is a good parody of vacuous, white-friendly hiphop.

Omar Baroud portrays the festering resentment of the nominal lead with sensitivity, and he really comes alive when singing, but his characterisation was ultimately lost among the more heightened musical-esque performances around him. Though not as lost as one cast member, who kept delivering lines with their back to the audience.

Creatives is billed as a ‘dark, comic pop opera’, which makes it sound like a slightly abstract musical about advertising executives. It is none of those things. It certainly isn’t an opera, nor is it reliably comic, and its lack of focus undermines any darkness. There’s a lot of interesting material here which could be reworked into something more coherent, but in the meantime the show is being propped up by the talents of its hardworking cast.

Reviews by James T. Harding

Pleasance Courtyard

Creatives

★★
Bedlam Theatre

The Duck Pond

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A dark, comic pop-opera by Irvine Welsh and Don De Grazia. Featuring the original Chicago cast and a wide-ranging original score by Laurence Mark Wythe. Paul Brenner's songwriting class is a cross-section of the Chicago music scene, with all its incestuous dysfunction, navel-gazing narcissism, bitterness and occasional brilliance. When former student, pop star Sean O'Neil, visits this group of musicians to judge a contest, the stakes are suddenly raised to new levels when both revenge and jealousies come to the fore. Produced by Lesslie Ltd.

Most Popular See More

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets