A solid production of Rent that will entertain you for an evening but won’t remain with you.

The show pulled off heart-wrenching moments with aplomb.

Young bohemians are struggling to pay the rent in AIDS-ridden 90s New York as characters collide on one Christmas Eve. We watch the fallout, during the following 525,600 minutes (that’s a year to you and me). All of this takes place in a set constructed of primary coloured wooden blocks that was sadly reminiscent of a school. There are protests, arguments, people fall in love, out of love, they make up and break up all to a rock and roll soundtrack.

The show pulled off heart-wrenching moments with aplomb. Will I was a powerful moment and a beautiful monument to those who have succumbed to AIDS, chalking up names on the stage blocks which unfortunately added to the schoolroom sensation. I was certainly welling up during I’ll Cover You (Reprise), a softly heart-breaking moment handled smoothly by Rob Young. The chorus choreography, when they were working together in an intricate physical knot, was great and fascinating to watch. However when they separated out again the choreography lost a lot of its confidence.

The characters in Rent are notoriously tricky. Hannah Simpson’s Maureen was a blast of sultry energy to the production. Daniel Burns cleverly brought out Mark’s nerdy side in an attempt to give him a bit more of backbone, which worked, but did bring a grating nasal tone to his singing voice. Stephanie Napier’s Mimi was convincing disorientated addict, bringing a youth, naivety and humanity to her. Mimi and Rogers’ Light My Candle was the most believable I have seen. However what Mimi gained in innocence, she lost in confidence; she was a distantly less convincing erotic dancer, skittering across the stage unsteady in her heels, and colliding with more people than she seduces.

Some very peculiar directorial decisions had been made, whilst they cut the mugging of one of the main characters, going for an effective but almost comedic symbolic approach, they thought it was a good idea to have one of the chorus members sexually assaulted right in front of a section of the audience, during the same song as the mugging, only for the victim to leap up and join in with the dancing moments later. Elements like this really jarred, particularly as it looked like it was happening in a playground.

Character decisions for Joanne were also odd, cutting Joanne from most of La Vie Boehme, meant the audience had no chance to watch her interact with the other main characters. Georgina Clifton did the best she could with what was left of her character arc, but really struggled to make her anything but annoying. Being unable to hear huge chunks of key moments like La Vie Boehme, stripped the performance of all of its energy.

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

Join New Horizons for their debut production of Rent. Set at the turn of the century, Rent is a moving and powerful story of a group of young bohemians, all struggling to create and survive during the rise of a mysterious and deadly disease – AIDS. Rent was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score for Jonathan Larson. Rent lives on with the affirmation that there is ‘no day but today’.

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