Limbo: The Twelve is one of the latest pair of musicals from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, allowing a group of talented young performes the opportunity to perform an original musical, creating their own characters rather than reinterpreting existing ones. In Limbo: The Twelve, the more mature of this year's pair, the young musical theatre talents adopt the roles of drug addicts, stoic law enforcement and grieving family members.
Limbo: The Twelve is a case of a talented group of performers occasionally biting off more than they can chew.
Tess, the musical's protagonist, is on the border between life and death. Various people involved in her death in various capacities gather in a purgatorial waiting room to decide whether or not they are going to intervene in her death and save her life. Through musical interludes and monologue confessions we discover the lives of the twelve people who make up this jury and their relationship with Tess as they deliberate over whether or not to intervene. As a concept, it's an interesting one, though with what seems to be a moral plothole in that there doesn't seem to be any punishment for intervening in saving someone's life, therefore when almost all the jury members initially refuse to intervene they are basically killing her themselves. As this forms the backbone of the show's emotional arc, it comes off as unrealistically callous and colours audience investment throughout.
The individual emotions contained within the show though are beautifully portrayed and as isolated vignettes some have real power. Imani Russell and Max Weinberg are highlights in smaller roles playing parts friends unwillingly involved in Tess' addiction. Similarly, Olivia Worley shines brightly when given the spotlight. The show's undoubted lead is Sarah Olive-McStay as Tess and she deserves the role wholeheartedly, lending raw emotion and intensity to a hugely difficult role.
Additionally, the music and lyrics by Jonathan Bauer and Casey Kendall is strong, with a duet set in a rehabilitation clinic both wonderfully written and performed. However the show's themes often seem too heavy a weight to hang over this young cast. From the 90s costuming to the neat narrative structure, it betrays the complex and difficult nature of addiction and recovery. Seeing people get convinced of the worthiness of someone's life through a three-minute solo strains credulity too often, no matter how talented the person performing it is.
Limbo: The Twelve is a case of a talented group of performers occasionally biting off more than they can chew. Struggling against weighty material, when they succeed they tug effectively at the heartstrings and the show often an effective emotional experience powered by talented performers.