15 February 2010

Review: A Narrow Time For Angels - The Musical

A Narrow Time for Angels: The Musical
Wishing Well Productions

Northcote Town Hall
11 February 2010

Like many others, I can see the gorgeous and funny loveliness of Cerise de Geder’s A Narrow Time For Angels, but it’s not hitting its mark on the stage yet.

First performed at the Storeroom last year, a new creative team (Wishing Well Productions) took hold for Midsumma. The biggest difference is that it’s now billed as a musical.

When I heard about this, I thought that it may be the best way for this script to go. The themes of life, death, suicide and after life are epic and the nonsensical comedy of the chatting corpse, her frustrated lover and the repressed mortician open themselves up for heartbreaking ballads and comic sing-a-long tunes.

But the new songs didn’t add to the script. They didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know, didn’t let the characters say anything they hadn’t already said (not just in subtext, but in good old expositionary and explanatory dialogue), didn’t move the story forward, told unnecessary back story and felt like they were just pushed into the script. Too many of the songs could have replaced the dialogue that went before.

Great musical songs are like soliloquies that tell us what the characters can’t bring themselves to say. They show us their hidden longings and fears and draw us further into their story. The music didn’t feel natural and its uneasiness distanced the audience from the story.  I think that the non-musical version had more dramatic punch. 

A Narrow Time For Angles isn’t going to disappear. Apart from being a stunning title, its originality, mystery plot and comedy will keep drawing people to the script. And hopefully de Gelder will keep re-drafting (and perhaps bring in the tough love of a tough editor) and find the tone that has eluded the productions. The script is still deciding if it’s farce, romantic comedy, absurd comedy or pseudo-Tarantino-thriller, and sometimes the playwright’s opinion overrides the characters’ voices. Every writer wants their creations to express their own views of the world, but the skill is keeping it within the authentic world of the character.

Good plays take time to be great. I look forward to seeing what it turns into.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

2 comments:

  1. Actually ANTFA was written initially as a musical. The songs were in the original text and the storeroom production omiitted them because the music hadn't been written yet. Always interesting to hear people's feedback.

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  2. As creating is such a complicated and personal task (while reviewing can be so subjective), it's great to learn how works develop and change.

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