One of the best things about theatre, and art in general, is the space it creates for difficult conversations and analysis. For You I'd Wait has a lot of potential to engage in both, but the musical lacks sensitivity and comes across as self-indulgent and shallow.
lacks sensitivity and comes across as self-indulgent
Based around the November 13th Attacks on Paris, For You I’d Wait follows three couples before and after the attacks. Engaging with sensitive materials requires a degree of maturity and skill, and it is clear that the creative team behind this musical sorely lacks both of these qualities. The subsequent effect is that the attack’s significance is diminished to the extent of trivialising it. Due to the stereotypical, and therefore interchangeable nature of the main plot, the impression is that the creative team needed ‘a traumatic event’ and chose the November attacks to try and create some depth within the musical.
The narrative itself relies heavily on stereotypes; it is easy to predict the path each couple will follow. Act I is simply a matter of establishing the characters and their conflicts, most of which were magically solved by the start of second half. There is absolutely no emotional payoff in Act II, as the rushed cut-away scenes between songs are filled with self-pitying dialogue that change quickly from survivor’s guilt to relationship problems. The only resolution is the final song telling us that there is resolution.
There is an unfortunate trend in musical theatre where performers are asked to belt at the top of their range from the start until the end for seemingly no particular narrative reason. The score for this musical is no different. The songs are easily forgotten as the music is generally formulaic and lacks variety: quiet start, a soaring melody which modulates into an even more soaring melody which has the actors singing at the top of their range. It is a wonder the actors make it all the way through with their voices intact.
Handling the challenges of the score, the casts’ vocal skills alone save the show. Olivia Walker-Toward (Lily) practically carries Act I, and her voice is distinctive, melding together a legitimate, operatic vibrato to the demands of the score. Michael Karl-Lewis’ (Nic) rendition of Writing in the Dark is the only attempt made to add depth to this otherwise juvenile character. However, since he disappears for the rest of the act, this development means very little. The biggest emotional pay-off that we see is Billie Kerr’s (Renée) rendition of I Want to Go Back. This song is a truly vulnerable moment, and is a beautiful contrast to Kerr’s previous no-nonsense, detached persona and dry sense of humour. With Kerr’s vocal talent, knack for comedic timing and overall acting abilities, Renée becomes by far the most interesting and developed character.
For You I’d Wait has glaring issues from stereotypes to underdeveloped characters and an uninteresting score; a combination that makes this musical very difficult to engage with.