What a great show to discover. I really loved the whole thing. Julie Atherton and Jon Lee are both excellent and seem to have a real chemistry. I loved the direction/staging too. The use of the wall of boxes was great I thought. The only thing letting it down was the sound. Despite having what looked like bluetooth headsets strapped to the side of their faces I couldn't hear some of the lyrics because of the band and at other times the voices were way too loud. Surely a show like that in such a small space shouldn't need microphones at all! Just let the MD keep the band fairly quite so the cast can sing over them. The Donmar never used to use mics and it was great to hear unamplified voices, but even they've switched over so everything's miked now. - Steve
11 Nov 10
I really really enjoyed this - which was all to the good as I expected it to be pretty average. The music was far more accessible than Sondheim, the staging was clever, it was beautifully acted, and a really ingeniously put-together show. One of my highlights of the year, just lovely. - James B
06 Nov 10
I think this production must have really moved on since your reviewers saw it as the performance we saw on 5 November was excellent - well sung and acted and you definitely engaged with the characters. I shed tears at the end! The show was reminiscent in style and ideas to Jason Robert Brown's "The Last Five Years" but much better in my opinion because there was more dialogue and character development. I agree with the comments of critics re the use of microphones. The female performers, in particular, were projecting as if they were on a large West End stage and nobody needed amplification in this intimate venue. - Diane
05 Nov 10
I first saw this Sondheimesque show four years ago at the even smaller New End Theatre in Hampstead where the young couple was Stephen Ashfield (who went on to be a Jersey Boy) and Emma Williams (soon to open in the transfer of Love Story from Chichester). The show intertwines the stories of a young couple about to get married with another about to get divorced 10 tears and one son later. Both couples are on stage virtually throughout and there is little dialogue, so it feels more like a songspiel. I found it hard to get into it or even care about the characters in the first half, but things looked up in the second. It’s a clever show – maybe too clever for it own good; this might actually inhibit emotional engagement with the characters – but four years on still seems unfinished. The Landor have attracted Jon Lee and Julie Atherton, who together with Grant Neal and Yvette Robinson, make a decent job of it. In truth, though, it wasn’t ready at this last preview. The cast do not yet seem comfortable, they and the band didn’t seem to have quite mastered the complex score and there were issues with lighting and sound. Chris de Wilde’s design, though, is superb – an ‘Ikea’ wall of 45 large boxes onto which there are projections and into which props go in and out.
It was often far too loud for the style and subject matter, though in contrast Julie Atherton was occasionally inaudible. I’d question the wisdom of amplification in this small space – with the inclusion of percussion, this is probably necessary, but it’s a chamber piece, so maybe a quieter orchestration without amplification would be better.
With hindsight, I wish I’d gone later in the run by which time I’m sure it will be very much the finished article. - Gareth James
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