Friday 1 August 2014

Marry Me A Little - Review

St James Studio, London


Songs by Stephen Sondheim
Conceived and Developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene
Directed by Hannah Chissick

Simon Bailey and Laura Pitt-Pulford

Marry Me A Little is a little known creation strung together from an eclectic mix of Stephen Sondheim compositions. A 17 number song-cycle, compiled by Craig Lucas and Norman René, it draws from a selection of 45 songs hitherto un-performed and which in some cases had simply been chopped from shows that were themselves to become pillars of the musical theatre canon. The song-cycle is a much maligned phrase in modern writing - oft times proving to be little more than a collection of works of dubious merit, strung around a clichéd framework. Marry Me A Little is a lot more than that. It's an ultimately doomed fairy-tale comment upon the hopes and failures in relationships, viewed through the sometimes hopeful but often dyspeptic eyes of a pair of 30-something Manhattanites. 

With Sondheim's writing and the talents of Laura Pitt-Pulford and Simon Bailey on stage, this hour long novelty was only ever going to make for stunning entertainment. Together, the two actors' harmonies and counterpoints are sublime whilst their mastery of humour and pathos is a treat.

A handful of memorable moments: The Cole Porter-like ingenuity of A Moment With You is a treat of razor-sharp wit. Pitt-Pulford’s glorious Can That Boy Foxtrot, in which her acknowledged triple-threat talents are put to good use switching between a bevy of characters, only augmented by canny use of a baseball cap. Bailey’s Bang! (now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d write) is a song dropped from A Little Night Music that was to have been sung by Count Carl-Magnus recounting his sexual conquests. Bailey’s performance as the Count in Guildford last year was a tour-de-force of pomp and bluster and hearing him now sing Bang! made one reflect that perhaps Sondheim shouldn’t have excised the song from the finished show.

Hannah Chissick's direction, together with Nick Winston’s choreography brings some fine relief to the characters. David Randall’s piano work lends a confident accompaniment throughout, all adding to Marry Me A Little proving a cutely waspish summer treat for the capital.

Runs until 10th August 2014 

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