Park Theatre, London
Written and directed by Michael Yale
With music by Charlie Round-Turner
|James Robinson and Kate Batter|
The strapline to This Little Life of Mine invites us to "be at the birth of a brand new British musical". This is all well and good, but unfortunately aside from being "brand new " and, to be fair, an astonishingly good performance from Kate Batter as leading lady Izzy, there is little else to redeem this show.
Michael Yale (who also directs) has compiled a glimpse into the lives of a young couple, Izzy and Jonesy (James Robinson) as they set up home in today's high rent, cappuccino infused capital, subjecting them to a handful of recognisable but cliched vignettes along the way.
Its all very humdrum and unremarkable and that's just not good enough. For a musical to transport its audience to the highs and lows of the human condition (and surely that is what good musical theatre is all about) there must be sharp, witty lyrics, memorable tunes and standout performances. Sadly, with only a few exceptions, Yale and his composer Charlie Round-Turner subject their cast to little more than a barrage of stereotypical set pieces, which in the second half descend into dire predictability.
Batter puts in a fine turn, with a striking presence and voice that sometimes hints at her desperation for a child. The shallowness of the script however suggests that a woman's creative input in this show has been much missed. Yale fails to convince us in his documenting the depths of desperately female angst. There is at times an awkward schoolboy clumsiness to his writing, highlighted in the naïveté with which he has his characters handle the profound sadness of a miscarriage.
Other writers tackle such complexities with aplomb. Across the Atlantic, Sara Bareilles offers an acute understanding of the modern woman in Waitress, whilst Jason Robert Brown's The Last 5 Years is a masterclass in understanding how a deeply loving relationship between two young people can both grow and yet soon be extinguished.
Elsewhere Greg Barnett and Caroline Deverill make the best of the script in fleshing out their multitude of supporting characters.
Runs until 29th October
Photo credit: Charlie Round-Turner