Classical Youth on the (non-cutting) edge

Youth on the (non-cutting) edge

The opening song in this piece of music theatre speaks to the unbearable weight of society’s expectations on young people. “I smile because I need to be strong/all the while I soldier along” the ensemble laments. The young cast of this show would undoubtedly know something about that. The show has the same producers as last year’s Ovation-award winning I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and on opening night The Hangar was packed.

Unfortunately, the show’s leitmotiv of unfulfilled dreams and the battle to overcome limitations might also apply. While the production does not quite fall flat, it never quite sparkles either. The ensemble indeed soldiers along, parading one scenario after another but never quite engaging in-depth with the characters. The themes would not be out of place in an episode of Friends: a series of presumably 20-something characters trapped in unfulfilled relationships and dead-end jobs, take to the stage to present their dilemmas in song.

There is more soul-searching and navel-gazing packed into these 70 minutes than in an episode of Oprah, as the characters struggle to prepare for the unknown territory of marriage, the challenges of parenthood or the flimsy friendships of the Facebook age.

On paper the characters and scenarios may sound inviting, but neither the clichéd lyrics nor the stilted delivery allows them to fully come to life. Because the individual cast members rapidly switch characters in every new, short scene, it becomes difficult to identify with any one of them – almost like you just clicked on someone’s Facebook page before surfing on.

Consequently, the characters come across as generic and the emotions feel fake and unconvincing. More variation between seriousness and humour might have heightened the impact, as would a binding text that could have created some coherence.

Musically, the production is also rather bland. With the exception of one song by a lover scorned (I Hope You Die), delivered with gusto and good comedic timing (the only other attempt at humour being a cheap shot at a gay stereotype), the melodies are quite unremarkable and belted out with limited dynamic range. The cast, both as individuals and as an ensemble, clearly have potential and energy, but this production does not seem to be the ideal vehicle for it.

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