Where: Inner London
3 May 2001 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews The Bridewell has come up trumps yet again. In giving the British premiere to Craig Carnelia's 1982 Broadway show, the company here has uncovered another wistful, magical, musical gem. A confessional cabaret about school days, as a group of adults reflect back on theirs, Is There Life after High School sets about to prove that they are not necessarily the best days of your life. And though this won't be the best evening of yours, it's a surprisingly affecting and effective trip down a memory lane that many prefer to forget.
All those petty squabbles and minor insults - as refracted through the prism of teenage eyes so that they're magnified at the time into events of far more significance than they really are - come back to haunt the characters' adult selves at a college reunion. This is as if
Stephen Sondheim's Follies (premiered on Broadway a decade earlier and a clear influence) has been rewritten not as a reunion of showgirls but of the far more universal experience of schoolkids. And even if Jeffrey Kindley's book for this show is inevitably of a specifically American experience - complete with senior proms, cheerleaders and swearing allegiance to the flag - we've all been there in one way or another.
Carnelia's sweet, melancholic and reflective melodies reveal a delightful musical voice, delightfully rendered here by a terrific ensemble of nine good-looking actors and three fine musicians (led by
Martin Lowe from the piano).
Though the Bridewell demonstrates here, as always, that it is at the forefront of London's musical theatre developments - and also one of the most versatile of all performance spaces in the capital - one disservice to the effectiveness of
High School is the seating configuration adopted. This time the audience is seated on two long, facing sides on either side of a traverse stage that cuts through the middle of them. Nonetheless, if Matthew Ryan's production comes across occasionally as a little clumsy and untidy as a result, it's not enough to spoil what is really quite a treat!
Mark Shenton Related Content
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