Stop

There is a lot to like about this package. Stop is effortlessly charming, with a score that couldn’t stop making me smile throughout the show. Its characters are unique and fun, and its story is a compelling look at the universality of mental illness and hurt in society. But there’s an inconsistency that pervades the show. Throughout the performance, there’s a feeling that the next moment could be either utter genius, or just a bit boring.

Some of the most fun, entertaining music I’ve heard in a long while

Stop is about how seemingly disparate people, when brought together, can have similar paths. Four characters are trapped at a bus stop, and over time we learn that they are all struggling with a different form of mental illness. However, to say that this is the focus of the show is almost a disservice, because the core of it is the relationship between eccentric strangers: Chloe, Lewis, Justin and Martha. Some have more charm than others, notably Chloe and Lewis, but all the characters have at least a few moments when you smile at their fun antics. This charm carries over to the music, which is a delight every second it plays out. Lewis’ introduction is a good example of this; driving percussion, a strong guitar riff, and an energy that makes you want to just bop along to the rhythm of the song.

Apart from the music itself, most things are inclined to go at least somewhat awry. Vocals tended to be very strong during belty numbers and ballads, but faltered in smaller, more emotional songs. Acting, in the same way, tended to be inconsistent, apart from Chloe, played by Gemma Lowcock, who throughout led the energy on stage and, even more impressively, was able to restrain the nervous energy of her character in darker moments. Blocking tended to be a bit strange at times, especially when actors were leaving the stage, but was for the most part engaging and fun. While this lack of constancy doesn’t ruin the show, it keeps it from reaching its full potential.

Despite that, Stop is a very likeable show. It presents a complex story about the struggles of mental illness simply by exploring the intricacies of its characters. It has some of the most fun, entertaining music I’ve heard in a long while. Even if it may have faltered, it never truly lost its stride.  

Reviews by Miles Hurley

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

An everyman story about the very real and relatable world of mental illness. As you meet four Londoners, you will get to know their musical personalities, their senses of humour, and what they learn from the transient relationships they develop with each other in the liminal space of the mysterious bus stop. Never failing to attack its mission head on, Stop is the contemporary dramatisation of mental health that the theatrical world needs. Created by students with assistance from Claude-Michel Schönberg, Stop is the perfect balance of humour, music, and sobering realism.

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