The Melody Blog

Musicals are a challenge to perform on a budget at the best of times but the problem is made worse when the performance space is absurdly tiny. At the Fringe the best musicals are usually the simplest, especially in venues such as the aptly named Warren at Zoo Roxy. It is therefore quite a surprise to see a thirteen-strong cast and band performing a show that included frequent multimedia and over-ambitious choreography. The latter is not particularly challenging, the cast just don’t have enough room to perform it.The plot is similarly over-complicated for a one-hour slot. The script could have saved time by coming clean about its origins and just told us outright that it was a similar conceit to The Truman Show... but with music. Following the story of Melody, a character oblivious that her every move has been broadcast via blog since infancy, the similarities are quite striking. If the plot weren’t complex enough, the protagonist is only taught to sing and doesn’t realise that plain speech exists: an odd idea that may have possibly worked in a different context, perhaps.Within the show the script swings from comedy to tragedy in the time it takes to pause dramatically, an effect which serves to further the disorientation and alienation of the audience. This, along with an unconvincing villain (his motivation for the setting up the blog is rejection from the Royal College of Music), make the drama of the piece unsuccessful.The show is at its best when at its sunniest and its girliest. The central friendship between Melody and Toccata, the actress in the role of her best friend, is pleasant as the two are a likeable duo. Their voices sit well together and the inoffensive, sometimes catchy, pop tunes forming the soundtrack have an innocence that works in harmony with their initial characterisation. Like an episode of Glee, the characters in The Melody Blog change their traits at a rate of knots and the songs don’t always cooperate with the plot (I’ll warn you now, there’s a sea shanty) but when not taking itself too seriously, it acts as guilty pleasure. It is only when the script tries to offer social commentary on media manipulation of the masses that dramaturgical flaws of the piece shine through.

Reviews by Sam Kingston-Jones

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The Blurb

In Melody's world speech doesn't exist, only song accompanied by ghostly musicians. Can Melody escape the controlling conductor when she discovers her life is the most viewed video-stream online? **** (FringeReview.co.uk for 2010's 'Last Five Years').

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