Off Track Theatre - UCAS - *** (3 stars)

The composer Jude Obermüller’s lyrics are catchy but also contain actual meaning and have me humming 50K of Debt all the way home

UCAS follows five students and their teacher as they attempt to write personal statements for university. Moving through all of the typical questions, Off Track Theatre company’s production is energetic and in-your-face. The characters fit the usual stereotypes for a show of this genre; you have the quiet student, the loud one, the opinionated one, the angry one and the one who is trying to please his parents.

All members of the company sing with ease and all very well. It is unusual to attend a show and not find a standout performer but in UCAS, all of the members deliver their characters very well. The show is fast paced and the lively dance routines really help to bring it to life. There is an element of High School Musical about it but I for one love that about it as it gives the show a feel-good aspect despite the questions it addresses. The dedication and energy provided by the company lifts the audience and keeps them engaged.

This production is backed by a very accomplished live band. Containing five instruments, the sound really hits you and makes you want to join in with the singing. The composer Jude Obermüller’s lyrics are catchy but also contain actual meaning and have me humming 50K of Debt all the way home. The staging is simple but effective, using only tables to represent a classroom.

Off Track Theatre company’s production is only 55 minutes long and because of this I feel that a lot of the stories are not explored to their end or appropriate depth given to the writing. This is not necessarily the problem of the author as what was written was funny and informative but I feel the ending approached without me really knowing what the resolution had been. This may have been an issue with time. As a university student myself, I could relate to everything the musical was saying though I wondered thought about those audience members who weren’t students. Plenty of information was given but I think, if this musical was extended and the topic broadened, it could be something that was designed more for the masses.

Reviews by Lyndsey Bakewell

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The Blurb

Why go to university? Ms Miller has one hour to persuade her inner city school’s most difficult students to compose a personal statement. For her, university was a life-changing experience. For them, it’s a waste of time. A daring new musical examining the changing value of a university education.