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Armada (Edinburgh Fringe)

This new musical from Old Hall Theatre promises 'period drama with impressive costumes'

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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One of the joys of the Fringe is that we, as producers and critics, can see an amazing array of classics and new work, stellar professional and community casts, innovative and traditional work. The problem for any theatre company is ensuring the right people come to the right show.

This is a traditionally structured piece, offered by a community company (or I presume that is the case since again there was no programme available to check the credentials of anyone involved) and is also a piece of new work (again, I presume).

The idea of a musical exploring the story of a muse of John Dee aboard the English fleet defeating the Spanish Armada is a fascinating subject for musical treatment. The challenge is to find a new and appropriate way to tackle an epic battle landscape. Beautiful costumes (which they are), fine filmed dramatic scenes (which they are) and a committed cast is not enough.

At its heart there has to be a score which is consistent and appropriate to the telling. There have to be lyrics that are poetic and powerful, a book which explores real people and gives us a reason to spend an hour in their company. For me these are not achieved.

The cast are hampered in performance by slow backing tracks which root them musically and dramatically. Inside this idea and these creatives is a musical wanting to escape and fly. If they wish to tackle this subject and develop their professional position then this will have been a great developmental experience.

Armada is presented by Old Hall Theatre and continues at Paradise in Augustine's until 24 August.