God is always in the detail, but not in any great detail, in Laurence Mark Wythe’s decently composed but finally anodyne, all-purpose song cycle, given a lavish (by fringe standards), smart and attentive production by Robert McWhir, four years after its New End Theatre premiere.
Chris de Wilde’s set is an Advent calendar of beige doors that open to reveal props and mementoes and, in a vocal tango, some clues to secrets of addiction to food, lingerie and porn. And it’s not only when it’s fairly funny do you think of Sondheim doing this sort of number so much better.
There’s a four-piece band led by David Randall on keyboards. The actor/singers are miked, which seems insane in such a tiny room. One of the pleasures of close-up, intimate theatre, is the natural voice, and a highlight here is their inter-mingling in a memory number; but the sound system guarantees an unnecessary musical harshness.
Still, the singers are strongly differentiated and all pretty good, especially Julie Atherton as the expectant Kat and Jon Lee, formerly of S Club 7, as John, the wannabe screenwriter; Yvette Robinson and Grant Neal find mellower strains in their older, more cynical, selves.
Big moments, such as Kat’s “Girl in the Mirror” are not all that big, but a shared paternal pride duet is surprisingly touching, suddenly. The music and lyrics are always competent, sometimes clever but, as a whole, the show sounds like something ordered in a catalogue.