The first musical to visit the Southwark Playhouse since it was founded in 1993, Joe Frederick's staging of Company has been dragged unapologetically from its 1970 roots to the present day with an iPhones and laptop nearly the only props adorning the minimal set apart from the frequently reappearing 35th birthday cake.
Watching Bobby (Rupert Young) navigate the relationships of his friends — also giving us a glimpse into his own varied success with April (Katie Brayben), Marta (Michelle Bishop) and Kathy (Poppy Roe) — it quickly becomes clear the female half of the 14-strong cast are the ones to watch. In addition to strong performances from Bobby's three love interests Leigh McDonald also quickly establishes the standard to expect as one half of the evening's first marital vignette.
In a programme note Frederick shares his belief that theatre is at its best when it contains a mixture of "brilliantly crafted text, alongside a superbly composed musical score" and I have to agree that in Stephen Sondheim's score and George Furth's book Company delivers both 40 years on from its original production.
Frederick uses the space of the Playhouse well, the multiple entrances and exits provided by seating the audience on three sides meaning couples often surround Bobby whilst leaving him isolated centre stage. Although the production felt like it took a while to find its stride, by the top of the second act the whole company bring the space to life with suitable energy.
Siobhan McCarthy's studied and compelling performance and Cassidy Janson's wonderful portrayal of bride to be Amy showcase the complex material at its best — something which Rupert Young does not quite manage — but crammed with some of Sondheim's best numbers, it is still a treat to see this show revived in the intimate surroundings of Southwark Playhouse.