Robert S J Lucas’ new show,
Feels like a collection of clever and interesting songs that, taken together, are a little disjointed.
In his sung-through musical, Lucas proves himself to be a competent composer, although sometimes the music feels a little repetitive and some of the Sondheim-esque conversations-through-song are a little clunky. Featuring a small cast who mostly take on multiple roles, the score does not allow for moments where the singing can really blow you away although all are good singers. Alex Booth as an intimidating journalist has an especially strong voice and manages to lend a brooding malevolence to the performance that makes him shine out from the others. In the lead role, as a candidate just trying to do good for her people, Rio Brady is solid, if a little one-noted and static.
This criticism applies to most members of the company at one time or another, and may well in fact be a fault of the writing. Lucas has not allowed us much insight into the setting of the show or the backstories of any of the characters, and while I have no doubt this was a deliberate decision to make the characters feel detached and more like tropes, it does run the risk of making the audience lose interest in the plights of the characters. The Brechtian alienation is less epic and more flat, as I could not understand the motives of most of the characters.
X shines in those moments that could work as stand-alone songs. Conversation and It’s Politics are fine instances of dark satire that made me laugh and grimace at how true they were, but their placement within this show felt odd. The latter, presented by company members in futuristic spectacles, served only to stop the plot from progressing at critical moments.
The show overall feels like a collection of clever and interesting songs that, taken together, are a little disjointed. However, if you are happy with a musical that does not offer a particularly clear plot then this may be the show for you.