Blogger Lauryn Clarke (@_laurynclarke) reviews new musical LoveStuck for @MTAS_Official
The show was as if you stepped onto any university campus today. The main characters of Charlie, Lily and Jake are just entering university and we spend the course of the musical following them on their first year and beyond. It is a realistic portrayal of life as a young adult and is ultimately relatable for most young people. I enjoyed it greatly and thought that music, plot and cast were all excellent.
The staging and lighting were absolutely great. The theatre is very small and all actors used the space well, going into the seating and engaging with the audience which made the performance that much more immersive. The use of only a few props and a sheet as a stage divider was helpful with the small space by not making it seem too complicated or crowded; the stage divider was sheer, which lent itself well to the performance and led to some interesting duet/duo scenes (including an excellent performance with Luke de Belder and Samuel Peters) but at times could become distracting in a scene where there was a lot of patterns/effects going on while there was drama unfolding – but other than that the lighting worked well to create the atmospheres desired, especially with scenes taking place outside.
The music by P.J Nielsen was fabulous. It was what it would feel like if you dipped into the music library of a bunch of uni students now – each piece felt very much tailored to the moment and also to the character, for example, the character Lily (played by Kathryn Kitchener) has a solo which is reminiscent of an early 90s indie rock band which went with both her general character and her mentioned love for the genre earlier in the show. The lyrics were well-thought and not enshrined in metaphor and flowery language as some musicals can be, but rather a more honest reflection of the characters. The band were excellent all night, there weren’t any issues that I could hear and the music was performed fine; the band and Sound Designer/Engineer Mike Lane worked well in that the music was not too overpowering despite the space being so small, avoiding the issue that many small theatres have of the balance of music and actors.
The cast were all fabulous. They were all well utilised and keeping it with a small cast of characters really worked to their benefit as it allowed the audience to invest their attention in and understand these characters. The standouts for me had to be Kathryn Kitchener and Luke de Belder (as Lily and Jake, respectively) who played the opposite ends of the spectrum as students entering university and the changes and troubles that occur during your first year. Kitchener performed an emotional ending to Act 1 and throughout Act 2, captivating the audience; and de Belder got many laughs and gasps from the audience throughout, becoming a quick favourite of many and bringing heart to the main trio. Matthew Lee, who starred as Charlie, who was the audiences main lens into the story as our main character. He truly played off the experience of struggling with sexuality combined with the first romance and new friendships, as well as all the nervousness that comes with it well, making him feel like a relatable character. In fact, all of Adam Wollerton’s characters are relatable, very much as if you walked into your university and picked people at random to tell their stories – I could, as well as most people in the audience could, I suspect, instantly match the themes, experiences and characters to people and times in my life. The character of Sam gave the show a more mature presence without being condescending or unrealistic – while the show is inherently about university students, having the older brother Sam there (portrayed brilliantly by Topher Lynn) brought the plot a more adult hand to guide and give advice to the others while still being believable.
Overall, I did enjoy it. The use of the intimate theatre, realistic and relatable performance of the cast and great music made this show great. All people involved played to their strengths and this worked in their favour.
Tickets are available HERE and is running at The Cockpit Theatre from 25th-30th July.
Any thoughts or questions on my review? Have you seen it to and want to discuss? Hit me up on my twitter (@_laurynclarke) or at MTAS! (@MTAS_Official)