Departure Lounge

Set in the airport returning home after a lads’ holiday to Malaga, Departure Lounge takes a look at the fragility of hegemonic masculinity and its effects on teenage life. With an excellent score, beautifully played by guitarist Jazz Bullen, the musical was certainly catchy but somewhat unfulfilling.

In terms of entertainment it ticked all the boxes, but whether it provoked further dialogue is another question indeed.

The premise had potential: take four macho lads in the departure lounge returning home from their final holiday before university and give each of them an individual, emasculating secret in order to explore how it is affected (and usually oppressed) by their continual acts of manliness.

Hidden sexuality and the challenges of growing up orphaned were both featured themes, and with their level of poignancy could have given way to a deep and well-rooted production. I felt as though the company missed an opportunity to explore how, by virtue of the social dominance young masculinity so often seeks to achieve, mental health is often overlooked to the detriment of the very individuals who ignore it. It was evident that each character had his own inner baggage, but the production never seemed to venture beyond such a statement. The script did not explore the sentiments or the effects of such topics with enough conviction to justify their existence in the plot, and occasionally the meaningful topics came across as throw-away lines.

Technically the performance was strong, and the quartet of actors complemented each other’s vocals during the rich and varied harmonies. In particular, Ben Clark, who played the character of Jordan, is a strong singer and slipped easily through key changes and varying octaves.

The only female character – Sophie, portrayed by Emily Thompson – was also let down by the script. I would have liked to see her character have more agency to exist as a fully-formed person, rather than the object of male gaze that she was throughout the piece. Appearing predominantly for the boys’ flashback scenes it was difficult to remember that she had also been in Malaga for the entire week and, like the content of the musical, did not serve just to fill time.

Overall the piece was a solid effort – if a little misguided at times – and was a good example of how to work a stage with minimal props and space. In terms of entertainment it ticked all the boxes, but whether it provoked further dialogue is another question indeed.

Reviews by Matthew Sedman

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The Blurb

Stuck in a Departure Lounge waiting for their delayed flight home from a riotous holiday in Malaga, four lads realise that each is hiding a secret and their week in the sun was less blissful than it seemed. Pete looks on in pain as the other boys ring their parents, Ross regrets making no headway with the girl of his dreams, JB has friends-forever fantasies that aren’t reciprocated and Jordan hides his true sexuality under a reputation for being a stud. A hilarious high energy musical.