On paper [Title of show] seems like a pretentious production: a plot-less existentialist musical about two men writing a musical about two men writing a musical. It oozes self-importance and snobbery – a show exclusively for theatre buffs wherein outsiders would simply not understand all of the cult references and “deeper meanings”. However, in actuality this was a very intelligent and insightful show under no illusions about what it was trying to do, either to its audience or itself.
Every overly cheesy, disgustingly ostentatious moment was immediately addressed and ridiculed through song; every problem quickly solved and then mocked by the very characters that created it. Fuelling the underlying theme that there is no such thing as an original thought, the perceptive script second guessed any possible critique and therefore protected itself from it, shifting focus onto musicals and even art as a whole. One could not help but admire the intelligence and honesty with which the show carries itself, compounded by the small yet strong cast, including a particularly expressive phone. Every problem with [Title of show] was presented as a conscious choice, effectively commanding respect over condemnation.
Although [Title of show] undeniably dedicates itself to its message, in doing this it loses a sense of its own essence, and its main purpose of providing an entertaining evening. Moments of humour are frequent, though often only funny enough to elicit a slight increase in the amount of air pushed through each audience member’s nose, and mostly play on the irony of a musical that criticises itself. The music is made up of simple step-by-step melodies and basic choral harmonies that struggle to inspire, despite the lovely blend of voices the actors possessed.
There is very little plot especially towards the end, when it feels like the show is only still going so as to reach the standard 90-minute running time. The audience are held at arms’ length throughout, probably due to the elaborately framed nature of the show, and none of the characters are given enough depth for us to really root for them. In fact, the character easiest to connect with was the bored-looking, put-upon pianist Larry, placed in the back corner of the stage and commanded to accompany the characters in their selfish musical ramblings. A show about him might have been preferable!
Overall, [Title of show] had the potential to be a hilarious, entertaining romp through the world of musical theatre. However, in making fun of the world to which it belongs, the musical actually loses sight of its main purpose: to entertain, to provoke emotion, and to provide an escape Possibly, if this had been kept in mind as opposed to criticism of the theatre industry, a stronger, more compelling show would have resulted.