The Distance You Have Come
Reviewed – 18th October 2018
“it was utterly impossible to not be moved by the all-consuming singing of Alexia Khadime”
Scott Alan’s new song cycle, The Distance You Have Come, at the Cockpit Theatre is an apologetically raw evening, of six actors, 26 songs and a lot of heartstrings pulled out. It was, at first, difficult to see what held the individual songs together (besides an obvious love of American musical theatre) but the powerful performances and commitment to unadulterated emotion got us there in the end.
The songs were stapled together by a, sometimes contrived, shared setting in a park and their theme of achievement of any type. Two men fell in love and became fathers. A young recovering alcoholic overcame the split with his partner. Two women left one another as one became a surrogate mother and the other stalked the park looking for men to sing songs with. The show was redemptive as characters moved from cynicism and despair to success and fulfilment, but ‘redemption’ was less the strong intellectual glue needed and more attractive wallpaper over the thematic gaps between songs.
The performances were almighty as individual efforts, leaving no meaningful gaze ungazed and no high note unhit. This young cast clearly has great futures ahead of them (and some already have great pasts behind them), with commitment, energy and vocal talent oozing out of each pore. Jodie Jacobs (Anna) stood out as a respite from the High School Musical style which is all pervasive in a musical theatre and it was utterly impossible to not be moved by the all-consuming singing of Alexia Khadime (Laura).
With these invincible performances, the show was occasionally let down by strange decisions and a few lazy choices, lyrically and on stage. Cliche was the name of the game as an ‘alcoholic’ sipped from a hip flask and was tormented by masked and hooded abstract figures. The set was a strange fusion of nature and bougie restaurant with a giant leaf on the floor, a tree above and bare filament light bulbs hanging from the rafters. Lyrically this show pushed the boundaries of where normal musical theatre cheese meets lazy cliche with lines like ‘A home is where the heart is meant to be and you’ll always have a home inside of me’ feeling empty and tired. It was a shame to see small issues not dealt with (it wasn’t the first night) with actors performing to empty corners and the speakers consistently buzzing over one particularly popular high note.
This all said, The Distance You Have Come is not a show to be dissected or understood, but a show which enjoyably surrounds you with enough emotion that you can’t help but go along with it. The themes were contrived and the technical aspects were loose, but the exposed and unapologetic emotion of the performance culminated in a predictably moving evening.
Reviewed by William Nash
Photography by Darren Bell
The Distance You Have Come
Cockpit Theatre until 28th October
Previously reviewed at this venue: