THE PRODIGALS: Joe Harmston, Ray Goudie
Runs: 2h 30m, one interval, till 14 September.
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 04 09 13
Energetic, entertaining with a serious side too
Troops in Afghanistan fighting the poppy trade, drugs and death in the UK, family tensions; this is a big, bold, and broad canvas to cover in one musical. For the most part this Harmston-Goudie musical works very well at the Belgrade. It has its run here following an earlier successful run last year at Edinburgh.
The musical tells the story of Colonel Luke Gibson who has two sons in the army – Mike, chip off the old block, a committed soldier, and Kyle, who buys himself out of the army to follow a pop career. Kyle is hooked on drugs (while his brother is fighting the trade) and Kyle’s singing partner, Kelly, dies of an overdose. Eventually Kyle comes back into the fold (following the Biblical parable) and is welcomed by his father; however, there is no easy resolution.
The music is energetic and has great appeal, specially, I suspect, for younger audiences – which is a really good thing. And there is some lovely dance from the ensemble.
Simon Bowman gives a warm and multi-dimensional portrayal as the father, Luke, singing and acting with consummate ease. Greg Oliver and Sam Ferriday (Kyle and Mike) contrast well as the two very different brothers.
These two young men create a tangible relationship which pays dividends in their two moving duets. Their duet in the prison is the moment in the first act when we are really drawn into the action. With their father, Luke, and Kelly (Sarah Watson) there is a marvellous finale to the first half, WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
Musicals appear easy to put together, but are notoriously difficult. There are two areas in PRODIGALS which might be looked at if the show goes into further development. We need greater clarity as to whose journey we are following, and the structure of the opening sections need to draw us into the play world more. There is a engaging and upbeat opening to the second half – with exciting dance-movement from the young ensemble; the show could do with a song at this point.
The whole is directed with attitude by Joe Harmston within a harsh metal (and most effective) set by Sean Cavanagh.
THE PRODIGALS is an exciting new show, and, judging by the enthusiastic response, will have a good time at the Belgrade – as will its audiences.
Colonel Luke Gibson: Simo Bowman
Kyle Gibson: Greg Oliver
Captain Mike Gibson: Sam Ferriday
Kelly Byrne: Sarah Watson
Sergeant MacMorris / Judge / Prison Warder: James William Marshall
Toole / Dance Captain: Simeon John-Wake
Disco: Omari Bernard
Beat: Jamie-Ray Hartshorne
Brodie / Cheryl: Emma Franklin
Loud One / BBC Reporter: Louise Chapman
Dewey / Ethel: Melanie Brown
Smurph / Beryl: Sarah Wilkie
Director & Co-Writer: Joe Harmston
Creative Producer & Co-Writer: Ray Goudie
Designer: Sean Cavanagh
Choreographer: Natalie Murdoch
Musical Director / Musical Supervisor: Matt Smith
Lighting Designer: Ben Cracknell
Sound Designer: Ben Harrison
Video Projection Designer: Louise Rhoades-Brown
Casting Director: Anne Vosser
Military Supervisor: Brendan Riding