Departures: A Song Cycle

The idea of the song cycle is to use an original thought from which the music and lyrics is constructed as opposed to writing a book or adapting material from an original source. Sheffield based Verismo Theatre bring such a song cycle to the fringe, based on interviews from individuals across a diverse range of British communities. Each interview answers the same question: "What is the biggest challenge in your life at the moment?” These were transcribed and then adapted into song using a variety of musical theatre styles, from contemporary pop and funk to barbershop.

the show weaves a tapestry of emotion for one character who simply visits the station to have company and to escape loneliness

The show touches on a variety of topics including immigration, misogyny and internet dating, telling the story of eight strangers standing at a nondescript railway platform on an unremarkable weekday afternoon. As their train is delayed further, these Britons put down their crumpled Metros, pocket their bleeping smartphones and begin to share their secrets, hopes and fears. The use of a train station platform is extremely fitting and the show weaves a tapestry of emotion for one character who simply visits the station to have company and to escape loneliness.

This is a stylish production tucked away in C venues’ newest space, C Cubed, housed in the historic Riddles Court. The venue’s intimacy really adds to the production, with soaring musical styles that showcase the 8 strong cast stunning vocals. Initially there were a couple of issues of pitching but these were soon resolved. Matthew Malone’s score lends itself well to this musical journey. Director Joe Bunce has worked the space expertly allowing each of the 8 performers their chance to shine, although there is more than one use of strong language which actually pulls the production down rather than adding anything to it. That aside, this is a production filled with promise; its ability to show human compassion and emotion is a refreshing addition to the musicals section of this year’s festival and ensures that Departures shines like a jewel.

Reviews by Brett Herriot

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Eight strangers stand at a nondescript railway platform on an unremarkable weekday afternoon. As their train is delayed further, they put down their crumpled Metros, pocket their bleeping smartphones and begin to share their secrets, hopes and fears. A musical snapshot of modern Britain, developed through interviews and social experiment, by Joe Bunce and Matthew Malone. Previous work: 'Complex harmonies...beautiful, poignant and well-realised' (BroadwayBaby). 'A tour de force of remarkable power and complexity' (Sheffield Telegraph). ‘Sharp wit and good music - it is full of joy' (ThreeWeeks). 'An appealing and fun style of storytelling' (Scotsman).