Wednesday, 6 February 2013

LIFT - review

Written by: Anna Jones (@Now4567Anna)

Soho Theatre, London

New British musical theatre which strives for originality and innovation is what the art form needs to ensure that it continues to gain credibility. Craig Adams (Composer & Lyricist) and Ian Watson (Book) with direction from Steven Paling have provided a dose of this with their production of LIFT. The story is constructed and narrated through the imagination of a Busker (George Maguire) who visualises the lives of people he sees every day on his way up to Covent Garden in the famous lifts.

Photo: Darren Bell
Cynthia Erivo whose character leads a double life as a ballet dancer by day and lap dancer by night, gives goose pimples with her soaring voice and Jonny Fines is excellent as the conflicted dancer who is concealing his homosexuality from his fiancée back home in Newcastle. Erivo and Fines characters have the most interesting relationship in the production by giving an insight into fluid sexuality and unspoken heartbreak.

Nikki Davis is also very compelling as the PA with unrequited feelings for her boss (Luke Kempner), the ambitious and heartbroken businessman. True to form, Julie Atherton gives a beautiful turn as the introverted lesbian French Teacher, in love with her compulsive student.

Design (Georgia Lowe) is impressive – the staging is a wide cross shape which has tracks running along the edges so that moveable frames with neon lights can move vertically and horizontally, creating a confined lift shaped square around characters.

There are very loud echoes of RENT; particularly channelled through Maguire as the jilted observer using the people around him to try and make sense of his own life, much like the narrator character of Mark in RENT. There is even a moment when the cast of eight line-up and sing about defining their life in minutes… some familiar territory.

Photo: Darren Bell
However, this is not to the detriment of the production which is both clever and intriguing. It would have been nice to have more variety in the score which features a lot of ballads, but the cast sound gorgeous in ensemble numbers and the aesthetic and concept are very strong. 

This production runs until 24 February 2013. 
@SohoTheatre @LiftMusical

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