LIFE THROUGH A LENS – EXPOSURE THE MUSICAL
Book, music and lyrics by Mike Dyer
Two stars **
St James Theatre, 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA to 27 August 2016.
Mon-Sat 7.30 pm Mat Tues & Wed 2.30pm/
Runs 2hr 20 mins.
TICKETS: 0844 264 2140.
Review: William Russell 29 July.
Every picture tells a story but this one is not worth telling
Great photographs catch moments in time, freeze for ever what it was like and can change the future. But are they telling the truth? A photograph is not just what the camera sees, it is what the photographer wants it to see and sometimes that, especially when it comes to what can be done in the darkroom or editing suite, is anything but the truth.
The most famous picture to have doubts cast on it is probably Robert Capa’s Falling Soldier shot in Spain in 1936. Mike Dyer, the sole begetter of this strange musical, is a photographer and clearly has thought long and hard about his chosen career and the implications of what his photographs can do to influence things in ways unforeseen – or, sometimes, deliberately seen. The Capa photograph is only one of many to have doubtful provenance but to have caught the mood of a moment.
The musical looks at the career of Jimmy, son of a famous snapper, himself celebrated for serious snaps. He is tempted by a media mogul – the devil – to take pictures that sell regardless of message.
The result is an encounter with the seven deadly sins in a rain drenched London, and salvation – Dad appears to have done a Capa – with the help of Tara, a beautiful down and out girl, he meets selling tin saints made from drink cans. What that is all about is anybody’s guess.
The book is chaotic, and the music dreary apart from one song called Bandit Country which has a ring to it. The cast work very hard indeed – the ensemble in particular giving their all to choreographer Lindon Barr’s catwalk routines. The one good thing about the show is the set created by Timothy Bird – a camera lens and blank screens which rise and fall on to which are projected great photographs of the paparazzi years and before.
The camera does lie – the media mogul Miles Mason wants Jimmy to make his fortune by doing just that, as well as intruding into the private lives of the famous. David Albury as Jimmy sings well, makes the best of his role and keeps taking his clothes off for no very good reason.
Niamh Perry, given a splendid red satin gown to wear, makes the most of Pandora, the femme fatale destined to die from a drug overdose. Kurt Kansley is impressive as the dead dad, and Natalie Anderson touching as Tara.
Director Phil Willmott has done his best to inject life into the material at his disposal, but the result is a shambolic, awful evening which grinds on relentlessly clearly wishing to say something important and sadly failing. Even those splendid photographs and video projections eventually pall.
Jimmy: David Albury.
Tara: Natalie Anderson.
Miles Mason: Michael Greco.
Jimmy’s Father: Kurt Kansley.
Pandora: Niamh Perry.
Ensemble: Rhiannon Duncan; Zeph Gold; Stevie Mahoney; Cassie Rogers; Lauren Stroud; Jahrel Thomas; Manny Tsakanika; Ell-Rose Whitehouse.
Dance Captain: Manny Tsakanika
The Sins: Zeph Gold; Niamh Perry; Jahrel Thomas; Rhiannon Duncan; Kurt Kansley.
Director: Phil Willmott.
Choreographer: LIndon Barr.
Set & Video Designer: Timothy Bird.
Costume Designer: Carla Goodman.
Lighting Designer: Ben Cracknell.
Sound Designer: Ben Harrison.
Musical Director: Mark Collins.