music, book and lyrics by Paul Scott Goodman book by Miriam Gordon.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 18 May 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 April.
Strongly performed show covers familiar tracks.
Two different audiences are being catered for at the Finborough. And, with unusual confluence between set designs, the metal door-frames marking-out designer Phil Lindley’s set for this rock musical adventure of two on/off lovers’ late 20th-century odyssey through musical commerce from Glasgow to Manhattan, are helpfully removed to make office-space for Philip Lindley’s set for Sam Thompson’s Over the Bridge.
Thompson’s analysis of tensions in a 1950s Belfast shipyard is a theatre-world away from Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon’s feelgood fiction about thrusting singer/lyricist Monica Miller and agoraphobic song-writer Ian Wallace.
She draws him from his Glasgow bedsit and its comforting bottles. Yet, from the beginning, we know that by the end (which is where the “how did we get here from there?” show started) he’ll be looking her up in New York, as she locks herself defensively away from renewed emotional commitment.
That’s their other journey, from bedsit to bathroom, through success, scandal and rebranding as the spitting image of Punk and other transformations. It’s a matter of what the public is paying for this year, though Goodman and Gordon focus on the music and emotions.
It’s high energy, as Cassidy Janson’s Monica enthuses Alexis Gerred’s dour Ian, and high volume, climaxing at near ear-split levels – not hard in a tiny theatre with head-mikes and instrumental amplification. Andrew Keates’ production exploits the intimacy, Lindley’s split-level, compartmentalised set accommodating characters’ isolation while allowing them to expand into audience intrusion during the Punk phase.
Janson’s vibrant performance, bright lipstick, flaming hair, lit-up expression, her singing, dancing, pogo-ing energy, pushes the action along. Gerred firmly presents her partner’s decline into alcoholic incompetence. Keyboard-player Barney Ashworth participates enthusiastically in the manic moments. Goodman’s score provides those with energy, as he does other numbers with suggestions of good songs to come.
But what’s it all for? The story’s so familiar even Hollywood might be tiring of it: ‘They loved, then her ambition, his drinking, clashed. Now, will they have a second chance?’. Add some cultural detail – Scottish (particularly clichéd), Catholic, Jewish for humorous exploitation and what do you have? The formula as before.
Monica P Miller: Cassidy Janson.
Ian Wallace: Alexis Gerred.
Himself/CBGB Announcer: Paul Gambaccini.
Rum Room Announcer: Paul Scott Goodman.
Wreck Room Announcer: Paul Kae.
Keyboards: Barney Ashworth.
Guitar: Ollie Hannifan, James Gale.
Percussion: James Pritchard.
Director: Andrew Keates.
Designer: Phil Lindley.
Lighting: Neill Brinkworth.
Sound: Tom Lishman.
Musical director: Mark Warman.
Choreographer: Sam Spencer Lane.
Costume: Philippa Batt.
Associate musical director: Barney Ashworth.