Monday 5 December 2016

The Clockmaker's Daughter - Review

Trinity Laban, London


Written by Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn
Directed by Michael Howcroft

Spindlewood, like most towns, has its time old traditions. But no tale is so firmly adhered to as ‘The Turning of the Key’. Every year, on the last night of winter, as the first day of spring unfolds, the Northern townsfolk gather to take part in a strange ritual to honour its oldest legend.

Spindlewood was once home to a clockmaker, Abraham Reed. A tormented genius who, stricken with grief over the loss of his beloved wife and through methods hidden even to himself, created something much, much more than a machine. Every year the Townsfolk now meet in the centre of the town square, where a statue bearing the likeness of a young girl stands, poised and still. This is Constance and she has stood in the square for as long as any can remember.

With direction from Michael Howcroft and a minimalist but highly effective set design from Amy Yardley this epic new musical has been visually scaled down and made more simplistic, though this does not deter from the stunning score, story line or performances given by the students of Trinity Laban. What it may lack aesthetically has been more than made up for with intricate costume, creative staging and the sheer blossoming talent on stage.

The ensemble did a phenomenal job in creating the feel of the ‘stuck in its ways’ town, Set in the North of England as opposed to its original setting in Ireland, it gave the townsfolk more of a working class feel that helped differentiate the class divide. Note must be given to Jenny Arnold for her stunning choreography, her use of movement in the final number of act one, Raise A Glass, was a joy to watch and showed true vision.

Alexandra Davies gives a hilarious performance as the vicious and wholly self-centred Ma Riley. Her delivery and comic timing of the witty dialogue shows the makings of a truly fabulous actress. Despite her negative attitude to her work life, her employees and even her own son Will, Davies’ delivery makes this a character that you cannot help but love to hate and hate that you love.

Similarly, Leo Rowell in his performance of The Clockmaker showed a maturity beyond his years with an emotional delivery of the tragic storyline and a rich, beautiful voice that suited the dramatic composition.

Two specific mentions must of course, go to the key characters Constance and Will, played by Christy Bellis and Jack McNeill. The writings of Webborn and Finn are not simple, but with a powerhouse voice and a stunning, emotionally involved display of acting, Bellis shows real intelligence in her depth of character. She hits all the marks, not missing a beat, whether it be comedy, heartbreak or sheer elation. Her final number in Act 2 was suspense-filled and mesmerizing. 

Likewise McNeill is definitely one to watch. Easily embodying the charm and playfulness of Will, he is desperate to escape the mundane nothingness of Spindlewood and you do not doubt for a second his adoration for Constance. He is a constant presence on stage and is a joy, not only to watch as a clearly skilled dancer, but to listen to. His clear quality of voice makes him a stunning tenor whose overall performance was faultless.

The future looks bright for Trinity Laban’s graduating year!

Reviewed by Charlotte Darcy

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