Lydia Whitbread’s Winging It is a vague yet very intense coming of age musical. It has an incredibly powerful score that is inundated with ‘I Want’ songs and power ballads, however it stretches itself too far in focus.
An incredibly powerful score however it stretches itself too far in focus
The plot of Winging It follows four separate characters as they rush to hand in their university applications. Issues of LGBTQ+ identity, domestic and emotional abuse, anxiety and the fallibility of parents are represented to a varying degree and shallowly explored.
The score itself is a sophisticated expression of emotions that burst forth from the characters, in a stream of consciousness manner. The narrative constantly shifts in focus between the characters; their internal and external struggles. It’s hard to empathise with the more privileged characters - Alex (Amelia Perry) and Francine (Camila Crabb-Zambrano) whose only problem seems to be choosing a degree when the other half of them - Nic (Damien Smith) and Ronan (Bethan Green) - are literally living in abusive households. In this way, it seems like the writer is trying to equate these struggles, but one is very much not the same as the other. Why should we empathise with Francine whose only problem is that her parents want her to become a lawyer like them when two characters are literally going through issues of actual severity? Maybe if the focus was more condensed which would give more time to explore each character’s arc more in depth, then we’d find something to connect with, but as it stands, we have to ask why is time allocated to exploring characters who make the same complaint in every scene that they’re in without moving the plot forward? The depictions of some of these issues is entirely subtext or exists because there’s a trigger warning sign on the door rather than any representation onstage. We’re given stock images of their lives and expected to glean some deeper meaning from them despite there being nothing to indicate that there is something deeper about the characters.
It’s a very uneven show, not only in its plot and character development but the strength between its plot and songs. In its current iteration, Winging It quite dramatically misses the mark.