After their five star runaway success with All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, Middle Child were always going to suffer from difficult second album syndrome and it’s a real shame that One Life Stand just doesn’t have the same magic spark. I wanted to love One Life Stand, I really did. There are possibilities of a fantastic play about the promises and pitfalls of monogamy, but the end result is simply patronising and shallow.
It’s disappointing to see they’ve lost touch with what made their work special
In what feels like an anxious attempt to be a ‘zeitgeist-y’ writer, Eve Nicol covers everything from zero hours contracts to social media socialism, cat GIFs and sexual liberation. All interesting subjects, but here they compete for time and space leaving none of them satisfyingly explored. As a result, any possibility of character depth or development is sadly lost. The central relationship is rendered dramatically inept by the fact that nothing is actually at stake; neither of them are happy together and we’re left wondering “Will they, won’t they?” or “When are they going to split up?”. Additionally, much of the dialogue falls into the trap of telling rather than showing us what the characters are feeling, which adds to the sense of being talked at rather than being engaged.
It doesn’t help that James Frewer and Honeyblood’s music jars with the narrative and doesn’t contribute much - except a longer running time. The company should be praised for branching out and continuing to experiment in their mission to reinvent musical theatre, but unfortunately it just doesn’t complement the tone, narrative or characterisation. Having seen the heights this company can soar to, it’s disappointing to see they’ve lost touch with what made their work special in the first place. Fingers crossed they find their spark again; the Fringe is duller without it.