Liberty Rides Forth!
Waterloo East Theatre
Reviewed – 4th October 2018
“as an audience member, you let yourself go along with the madness, it’s thoroughly entertaining”
The riotous Liberty Rides Forth! is likely not what you would expect in a musical, combining elements of Greek theatre and drag to offer a slightly bonkers hour and a half of escapism.
Three trainee muses representing poetry, comedy and romance are on a mission to inspire aspiring novelist Trevor Rowbottom, a timid and nerdy guy who is hopelessly in love with his colleague, Susie. He’s pretty sure she doesn’t know he exists, and so to change that, Trevor has tried everything to write the next best-seller so that Susie will notice him and fall madly in love. But he needs help, a lot of help. So much help that he he claims he would do anything to achieve his goals. And that’s when Liberty, the fabulous drag spirit bursts into his life causing havoc for both him and the muses.
Book, music and lyrics are all by David Kent, for whom Liberty Rides Forth! marks his first musical. It’s an ambitious project; most strikingly for its bizarre plot which is at first set up as if to be a satirical take on the structures of plot in novels and theatre (Muses on a Mission, The Formula for Love), but turns out instead to be a complete farce that’s almost impossible to pin down. If, as an audience member, you let yourself go along with the madness, it’s thoroughly entertaining.
The musical numbers vary from sweetly harmonious tunes from the Greek chorus, through pining ballads of unrequited love, to the more stomping and traditionally theatrical numbers characteristic of Liberty herself. The music is accompanied by some excellent imagery, a personal favourite in More than She’ll Ever Know came with Trevor declaring how much he would love to be Susie’s cup of Earl Grey tea, if only to be held by her and brought to her lips.
The cast really bring this piece to life and give it the kind of madcap energy it requires to draw the audience in to its unconventional plot. The three muses (Chloe Rice, Emma Scott and Georgie Faith) complemented each other beautifully, singing with a gorgeously bright tonality that set a high bar right from the opening number. William Hazell as Trevor is also superb, striking a balance between pathetic but endearing incompetence who grows in self-confidence throughout the piece. And of course the titular character herself, Lady Liberty, was played with much pomp and pizzazz by Dereck Walker.
The lighting on the whole involved subtle enough changes to suit the mood of the musical numbers, yet also heightening the drama in the more climactic scenes. Jasmine Davies’ numerous costumes for Liberty all conveyed the glamour of this femme fatale, particularly a red jewel-encrusted corset paired with an ostrich feather skirt. Heavenly.
Liberty Rides Forth! is a rompingly camp whirlwind of a show that’s best enjoyed with friends, a glass of wine, and an openness to all possibilities.
Reviewed by Amber Woodward
Photography by Mark Turner
Liberty Rides Forth!
Waterloo East Theatre until 21st October
Previously reviewed at this venue: