Departures: A Song Cycle

Whenever you’re waiting for your next train on the platform, do you imagine yourself having a connection with the person standing next to you? Do you imagine having any common ground with them? Departures: A Song Cycle explores this idea and looks at the role models of modern-day life.

As an ensemble they are solid and once exposed in the a cappella sections, Malone’s music shines.

Throughout the piece we hear various contrasting characters discuss with each other their position in modern British society and where they stand, depending on their race, class background or age. Matthew Malone’s musical arrangements provide some intriguing harmonic moments, particularly in the a cappella sections. The vast number of musical styles, from rock’n’roll to pop ballad however makes the production lose flow and continuity.

Lyrically, Joe Bunce takes away the emotional effect that the music provides. Blunt, one-dimensional and smothered with popular culture references; it is difficult to take the story seriously. Rather than delving into each of the character’s personal issues, it covers no new ground when it comes to discussing the topic of austerity in Britain.

As soloists the cast lack the vibrato and vocal projection techniques required to bring the music to life or keep any intrigue within the plot. As an ensemble however they are solid and once exposed in the a cappella sections, Malone’s music shines. The melodramatic acting from the majority of the cast overshadows this unfortunately. 

Reviews by Dan Parker

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

2014 award-winning musical returns. 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 by Cameron Mackintosh award-winning duo, Joe Bunce and Matthew Malone. Commendation for Musicianship (NSDF). 'Astonishingly inventive ... Witty and evocative' (Sunday Times). 'Departures shines like a jewel' (BroadwayBaby.com). 'Well-realised and beautifully orchestrated' ***** (KettleMag.co.uk). ***** (BoxDust.com). 'This is what the Edinburgh Fringe is all about' ***** (EdinburghGuide.com).