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Another Way – Reviewed

| Culture, Theatre, Venues | 23/09/2013

Another Way

Art is the ultimate expression of humanity and it’s how we define our uniqueness in the face of evanescent existentialism. Music is perhaps the greatest expression in this spectrum as it creates a universal link that enables the listener to immediately feel the purveyed message. Imagine then, if you will, being made privy to a dialogue on humanity that chooses to use music as the vehicle of its message. Another Way uses music, you could label it as a musical if you wish, but it isn’t in the traditional sense. It’s a play that uses song as a form of lyrical verse; forget Wicked or Rock of Ages, this instead is instead a dialogue on life that uses lyrical intervention as a modus operandi to carry through a simple message: there’s got to be another way.

It’s the unique touches of the production that truly separate it. Filming the audience as two of the protagonists burst into song and shower them with paper folded origami – messages inscribed upon them such as, “keep walking around your apartment naked…your neighbour loves it”. That tickled me. Still, we were soon ushered into our seats after being herded together like cattle (a symbolic gesture I’m sure, though one I seem to be unable to ascertain the meaning of) and I couldn’t help but find the introduction as gimmicky. It was different for sure, and different can often be good, but this isn’t a fantasy or even remotely fantastical in nature, this is a very human story about finding another way in an increasingly hostile and cynical world. Perhaps breaking the fourth wall so early on wasn’t the best way to keep me engaged, but you know what I liked it all the same.

What is certainly less gimmicky and much more original is the fact that this production is a series of short stories woven together through music. Six characters, three couples and three stories means there is something for everyone. Be it new found love, cynicism and materialism versus the idealistic or love in the face of adversity there will definitely be a message there for you to empathise with. What it lacks is a centralised narrative that weaves the subplots of these characters together successfully, however that’s not the point of this production, the point is to find another way. Whether it means finding another way in life or not, what the artistic talent behind this production has managed to do is find another way of communicating with an audience outside of the traditional or even expected form. We actively look for a traditional narrative now, you know the type – objective pursued, problems arise and are subsequently overcome – which is a shame, because it closes our eyes to the possibilities of seeing new ways in which stories can be delivered.

The cast themselves are uncompromisingly good; Julie Atherton brings a touch of the west end to a production that could otherwise feel slightly am-dram, and there is no way that one can escape the power of the lyrics (tip of the hat to the Composer Benedict) when they are so expertly and emotionally delivered. The dynamic between Andy Coxon (Oliver) and Atherton (Carrie) is both convincing and enjoyable as the representation of a modern and trouble encumbered relationship. Edwards (Toby) gives perhaps the most convincing performance of the night as the happy go lucky, entrepreneurial playboy that wins the audience over within seconds of the characters initial entrance. He’s the perfect foil to Aiden Crawford (Sam) whose uncompromising idealism drives the message of the piece. The character is frustratingly moral, which is a testament to the writers’ craft and Crawford’s skill, in so much that he thoroughly got under my skin. Ria Cherrelle Horsford (Vivien) and Matthew Collyer (Alex) provide a story of love and hope in the face of adversity. It’s story that could easily be so much more powerful, but for the fact that it seems to take a back seat to the rest of the action. The pair themselves deliver performances that are touching, funny and ever so slightly heart breaking. Collyer himself has a ‘rock’ edge to his voice that genuinely reinforces the notion that the character lives in hope and draws his strength from the unwavering devotion of a strong and modern woman, excellently played by Horsford.

As a whole the production is a success and one I’d recommend. I came out feeling optimistic and hopeful, something I’m sure that Henley and Allen-Martin (the writing force behind this piece) hoped to achieve. What I would suggest is that the audience should rid themselves of any preconceived artistic agenda on how a story should be conveyed, specifically in a musical form, and instead enjoy it for what it is, which is ultimately something new: a story told in another way.

For tickets and further info visit: www.thecockpit.org.uk

By James Alexander Minogue

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