This new musical, by award winning composer Laurence Mark Wythe and writer Roberto Trippini, is about an illegal immigrant who fled his country of political turmoil. It is billed as a ‘chamber piece’, ‘a musical rhapsody of loss and deceit’, ‘a modern character study’, and our expectations are for a rather interesting insight into a world we know, and hear, so little about.
Eko (Amersackie Osakonor) is a loyal Nigerian artist who has escaped the dictatorship of his country and sought pastures new as an illegal alien in the UK, selling his wears on the railings of Green Park. Befriended by foul mouthed mockney, Dashin’ Dan (Sean Keating), another seller at said railings, the two tout to tourists, scam on skirt and learn all about Eko’s trials and tribulations. They are joined by the beautiful Lavinia (Kendra McMillan), an American art lover engaged with Eko’s paintings.
As the show unfolds, more of Eko’s past is revealed, and the relationships develop naturally, before taking an unexpected and more sinister turn. Things are not as they seem, as Eko finds deceit and hostility even in apparent safety.
Wythe’s score is clearly the winner here, keeping a modern musical feel with pop-esque melodies. It is, unfortunately, not massively memorable, except for the sprightly and enjoyable title song ‘Roll On The Day’, performed with effervescence by McMillan and Keating. Trippini’s text moves the story nicely, however we feel we only get to scratch the surface of the characters; they lack in background, and therefore come across somewhat generalised and stereotypical.
As a ‘chamber piece’, it seems the suggestive railings and literal set pieces are not necessary and could have been reduced, allowing the actors to be used to their full potential and tell the story without hindrance in the limited space. Thus Vik Sivalingam’s direction came across static, repetitive, and occasionally clumsy.
The three performers are well cast and rehearsed, and if only there was a little more to the characters, then we could see them flourish. Keating’s Dan is an energetic performance and has great chemistry with McMillan, whose musical theatre ability is spot on and would feel right at home in the West End.
‘Roll On The Day’ attempts to handle an issue that could become something quiet heroic. It comes to life in the final quarter of the piece but sadly ends quiet abruptly. If it were less confused about its theatrical convention and had more depth to its characters, it could be quite a moving and gripping piece of musical theatre.