FRESHER the Musical

Five new students arrive at university for a year of alcohol-fueled partying. For the first time ‘you can be the person you want to be’, they tell each other excitedly while preparing for the freshers’ fancy dress party.Life looks like a giant game of ‘Shag, Marry, Avoid?’ and the prospect of actually doing some studying is still distant on the horizon. It’s only in the hungover haze of the next morning that they realise that deciding who you want to be isn’t as easy as it looks, and that deciding who you want to be with is even harder.Expect Schwartzy songs, Schwartzier jokes, and to learn a few interesting drinking games along the way.One of the characters, Hayley, really captured for me a certain type of person I met when I was a fresher myself. She’s not just a stereotype in the style of American high-school movies, and her transformation over the show really has something to say about adulthood and the way that our society mediates it. It’s very unusual to encounter such depth in a musical, and that’s exciting.Some serious character work went into the portrayal of Hayley by Grace Eccleston. Both she and her director are to be congratulated for a stunning performance that really brought out everything in the writing. Everything from Eccleston’s facial expression down to her fun yet dull Frankenstein's costume was perfect. Hopefully she’ll be adding her human touch to many more musicals - she’s fantastic, and in this character she’s original too.Hayley first comes into her own during ‘Isn’t that funny?’ - the first plot song of the musical and my favourite number. Composer Aspinall is at his strongest when he adds dialogue over his music - his lyrics are occasionally less inventive than I would like - and Grace Eccleston and Alexis Gerred really take advantage of this ireful yet superbly sweet song to steal the show.Sadly, this song happens a quarter of the way in, meaning that the show only gets going after fifteen meandering minutes. It wasn’t too late to save the show, but it was certainly too late to earn it five stars.

Reviews by James T. Harding

Pleasance Courtyard

Creatives

★★
Bedlam Theatre

The Duck Pond

★★★★★

The Blurb

Best New Musical 2010 award-winners return with their sharp witted, shamelessly truthful and touching musical comedy about university Freshers' Week. ‘Hilarious’ (Guardian), ‘A real Fringe hit!’ (Scotsman). www.fresherthemusical.co.uk