Lift

A quintessentially London musical by Craig Adams and Ian Watson, with new arrangements by Sam Young, Dean Johnson’s Lift at the Southwark Playhouse is a complex musical experience that allows us to reflect on our own habits. An audio and visual experience in and of itself, its quirkiness makes it enjoyable and softens some of its rougher edges.

fun and odd and everything about it is incredibly curious

Set within the 54 second journey in a lift at Covent Garden station takes, we are led through the lives of three distinct yet somehow connected pairs by the Busker (Luke Friend) as he tries to work through and make sense of an issue in his own life. Andrew Exeter’s production design, from the use of neon rods to physically make the lift, to lighting that corresponds to the characters and their plot lines, helps us follow a relatively convoluted plot. Whilst we see the same story repeating in different situations, it is not entirely clear if the plots and characters are interconnected in more ways than just using the same lift at the same time every morning. It’s rather confusing, because the explanation does not come until later, which makes the messaging seem shoehorned in. It has a deeper meaning but it comes over as one of those musicals where a deeper meaning is not necessary. This does not detract from our overall enjoyment of the musical.

Lift utilises one of my favourite and most difficult tropes to execute, in which it is clear we are seeing the other characters through the narrator’s eyes, so we never know how much a character’s persona and words are genuine, or an imposition by the narrator. The cast of Lift handle the challenges this trope presents incredibly.

The performances given by the cast are incredibly emotionally charged. They are clearly in control of the atmosphere and they navigate the highs and lows of the musical in a way that is captivating. Whilst they are each distinctive, they are incredibly powerful when they come together for their ensemble numbers. Kayleigh McKnight’s (the French Teacher) performance of Lost in Translations and Tamara Morgan’s (the Lap Dancer) It’s Been A Year are rooted in moments most people will have experienced, putting feelings into words as they grippingly tear themselves up onstage. These songs come after one another and are emotionally very similar, but the performance by these two actresses make the songs distinctive and memorable in their own right.

Despite its complex nature, Lift is fun and odd and everything about it is incredibly curious. It also provides sound advice for anyone looking to work through a problem. What more could you ask for?

Reviews by Katerina Partolina Schwartz

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★★★
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★★★
Network Theatre

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★★★★
Southwark Playhouse

Lift

★★★★
Dominion Theatre

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★★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Set in a London underground lift, in one man’s imagination, on its way to the surface during one minute. In the 54 seconds of the lift’s passage, we are taken on a much longer journey that reveals the people behind the masks they wear, the secrets they dare not speak, and the unrealised connections between them.

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