Early on there is a disconcerting feeling of having missed the introduction of the story; with hardly any dialogue the action moves from one song to the next without breaks. Right from the beginning the four singers’ strong voices and beautiful harmonic arrangements (musical director Richard Bates) make an impressive impact but unfortunately the piano accompaniment is set too loud so that some of the quieter sung moments feel over-run.
The plot is hard to follow and only starts to make sense halfway in. Cronin’s writing deals with an important fact about married men being secretly gay and the impact on the people surrounding them, but there are many moments lost which would have needed less of the declarative and over-emotional acting style linked to the musical theatre on the same wavelength as Fame. Hayley Cusick’s direction is precisely choreographed yet it's sometimes unclear where the focus is supposed to be and there is no time for the actors to breathe since the numbers follow each other so quickly in succession, and moments which could be developed get dissolved straight away.
Richard Bates (on press night) is a great conductor while also playing the piano and the cast's excellent voices are a joy to hear. Even though no melody sticks in the mind and it's hard to distinguish the songs after a while, the performers fully take the stage and use all they have to make the songs come alive. That said, they could at times restrain themselves from over-stressing each emotion in songs which comfortably speak for themselves.