We’ve Got Each Other
Reviewed – 6 February 2019
“Because O’Donnell proves he’s a ‘triple threat’, it’s hard not to want more than what we’re given”
We’ve Got Each Other is an anticipated twelve-times Olivier Award nominated musical spectacular. A cast of thirty-five, a full band rocking Bon Jovi tunes, Bruno Tonioli choreography, gorgeous costumes, and confetti cannons make for an unforgettable night of theatre. Or at least it would have, if Paul O’Donnell had had the budget for it. Due to a few logistical snags, the final result is… a bit different from the initial pitch. But ‘the show must go on’, and on it goes, as a one-man musical. O’Donnell reassures us, we’ve got the script, some good music, and most importantly, we’ve got each other. And that’s a lot.
Paul O’Donnell is hilarious, wonderfully awkward and apologetic, as he talks the audience through the show that ‘might have been’. He sits on the side of a bare stage under an Ikea lamp with the script. He invites us to use our imagination to make up for the lack of… everything really. Lighting cues (Arnim Friess) follow actors who aren’t there. O’Donnell narrates the story and the dancing play-by-play, vividly immersing the audience into a non-existent jukebox musical. It’s a laugh-out-loud funny spoof. He relentlessly, lovingly, mocks every aspect of musical theatre from the overwrought melodrama down to the set changes. Various recorded versions of “Livin’ on a Prayer” (acapella, instrumental) serve as the soundtrack.
O’Donnell embraces the very camp he’s poking fun at: his enthusiasm for this terrible Bon Jovi musical is infectious. It’s a bit of a shame, then, that it takes him until the second half to get up out of the chair. He spends most of the time sitting, half-mimicking the would-be dancing. The restraint of his position seems at odds with his eagerness and excitement. It’s gratifying when he finally gets up and fully dances, sings, and acts out the scenes. If he were to do this from the start, it would ramp up the energy of the show, which feels underdone while he’s confined to the chair. Because O’Donnell proves he’s a ‘triple threat’, it’s hard not to want more than what we’re given. Additionally, for a Bon Jovi musical, it would have been nice to hear more than one Bon Jovi song. Not sure whether it’s intentional for humour or copyright reasons, but comedy-wise it seems like loading a six-barrel gun with just one bullet.
One man reading through a musical script on a blank stage sounds like a long sixty minutes. The catch is that somehow O’Donnell is funny, creative, and talented enough to pull it off. Fans of musicals will truly enjoy this hilarious, incisive love letter to the genre. But even my companions who are not regular theatre-goers were repeatedly in stitches. This no-budget musical may be livin’ on a prayer, but it’s living its best life. Give it a shot.
Reviewed by Addison Waite
Photography by Alex Brenner
We’ve Got Each Other
Part of VAULT Festival 2019