The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing is a show that deals with precisely that – and the young, ambitious writer who's striving to attain it. Brought to Edinburgh by David Kent and starring Rebecca Ridout and Dereck Walker, both graduates from LSMT, this promises to be a "fabulously dangerous" new musical comedy.

There's a lot right with this show.

Following the story of new writer Helena, we are first introduced to her meagre apartment with her quaintly organised stationery and most of all her sweet, if slightly mousey, personality. The opening songs tell us of her determination, despite past fails, to write "the next big thing" - admittedly by following online guides of how to structure a successful book.

After flailing slightly, struggling to come up with a new idea, she settles on a new genre, romance, creating a new character: Liberty. As she becomes engrossed in the story that starts to easily spill from her brain we see that her fiction has become reality and Liberty appears before her - the glamorous, confident, verging on lascivious character that's the epitome of everything Helena is not. As Liberty puts it: "I've got balls!"

What ensues is a battle of power between protagonist and creator as Helena stops being able to ascertain what's real and what isn't, as Liberty starts to create chaos on Helena's behalf.

There's a lot right with this show. Musically I was surprisingly pleased, as there were some beautifully written moments amongst the comedy and some lovely rhythm structures and harmonies for good measure. Both lead parts were played really well and with a lot of easy likability. Ridout in particular was perfectly cast as the squeaky, anxious Helena and her gentle voice didn't overpower the subtle expression and tone of the writing.

The choice of having Liberty played by a man isn't necessarily wrong and Walker is clearly good at what he does. It did at times feel rather gimmicky though and I started to wish that writer David Kent could have been confident enough in his beautiful songs to leave the contrivance behind. I could have done with a few less eye-rollingly obvious puns about men in drag.

The blurb in the guide doesn't do this show justice - it may have a few obvious jokes and a few too many sequins but it's also, in many ways, a good example of some of the great things about modern musical theatre. 

Reviews by Hannah Lucy Baker

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The Blurb

After a series of rejected formulaic novels, an aspiring author finally creates a heroine who has a will of her own. Unexpectedly, Liberty literally comes alive, transforming her creator’s life by bringing magical success. But things soon get out of hand and success isn’t always what it promises to be…

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