MUTED, 3Star***, London, To 07 January

Book by Sarah Henley
Music & Lyrics by Tim Prottey-Jones & Tori Allen-Martin
3 Stars ***

The Bunker, 53a Southwark Street, London SE1 1RU to 7 January 2017.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 20 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0207 234 0486
Review: William Russell 10 December.

Breaking the silence-but a work in progress.
Very much a work in progress Muted has high ambitions but fails to achieve them. It needs a lot more work on the book, which is incoherent and much too long. A story which could be told in an hour takes two hours. Not that there is anything wrong with the basic idea. It is just its execution that calls for scissors and editing. As for the score, it suffers from much the same problems, an ailment I usually call the curse of Sondheim.

It has afflicted lots of off Broadway musicals over the years whose composers have been inspired by the great man. That is to say instead of composing songs they compose music to chunks of dialogue. He can make it work. But not everyone can. And the disease has spread here.

The basic story is novel and sound enough. Michael, the leading singer in a boy band loses his voice and retreats into silence after his mother is killed in a hit and run car accident. Time passes and his former band mate Jake, now living with Michael’s ex girl friend Lauren, wants to revive the group. Can either of them get Michael to break out of the silence he has imposed upon himself?

It is a clever ploy to have the Michael’s younger self played by another actor who can sing his feelings, which leaves the mute actor playing the older one with a pretty frightful role – to his credit David Leopold copes splendidly, suffers in silence to great effect, and reveals, when eventually he finds his voice, that he can sing very well.

As the teenage Michael Edd Campbell Bird matches him beautifully and the way they work together is hugely effective. As the possessive mother Helen Hobson delivers her songs with total clarity, something the less experienced players, even although they are miked, do not do. But she has been round the musical block for some time. Words matter in musicals, especially one like this which aspires to tell a quite complicated story with time shifts as Michael’s story is revealed.

The score has its moments, but needs a lot of tightening up. Those long melodic lines grow tedious. However, all that said, Muted is an ambitious piece of musical theatre and should, as the cast grow into their roles, get better by the day. Director Jamie Jackson just needs to be tough.

Lauren: Tori Allen-Martin.
Teenage Michael: Edd Campbell Bird.
Will: Mark Hawkins.
Amanda: Helen Hobson.
Michael: David Leopold.
Jake: Jos Slovick.

Director: Jamie Jackson.
Musical Director & Arranger: Adam Gerber.
Designer: Sarah Beaton.
Lighting Designer: Zoe Spurr.
Sound Designer: Max Perryment.
Movement Director: Isla Jackson-Ritchie.

2016-12-11 14:03:28

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