Tag Archives: Hiba Elchikhe

Millennials

Millennials

★★★

The Other Palace

Millennials

Millennials

The Other Palace

Reviewed – 15th July 2022

★★★

 

“Hannah Benson’s immersive staging bubbles with an energy”

 

There is, and always has been, debate about the purpose or usefulness of demographic tags. But whether we like them or not, or whether they influence an individual or a group of personalities, the labels are here to stay.

If you are a ‘Millennial’ you witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks that shook the world, and were likely to be old enough to comprehend its historical significance. You grew up in the shadow of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; you will have watched the erosion of the global political climate. Reaching adulthood, you would have walked headlong into the height of an economic recession. And the internet has pretty much always been there for you.

Is this significant?

If you are a ‘Millennial’ (according to psychologists) you are likely to be confident, but also confused. You are tolerant, but have an overblown sense of entitlement. You are generous, but at the same time narcissistic. In other words, you merely possess the contradictions that make us human.

Elliot Clay has written a song cycle that tells these Millennials’ stories. But he runs up against the same problems. For the most part they come across as merely human stories; under the Millennial banner. And it is a banner that is waved flamboyantly. Colourful yet superficial. There is little that earmarks a Millennial’s ownership of the subject matter. So we are left with a song cycle. And there is nothing wrong with that. Clay has composed some very fine numbers here. But a trick has been missed, and what is slightly frustrating about the show is the awareness that some sort of thread could have been weaved into the overall concept; or something to bind the characters into some sort of collective. To give them a real, solid context or journey.

Fortunately, that reservation in no way extends to the presentation. Hannah Benson’s immersive staging bubbles with an energy that sweeps aside the misgivings and allows us just to have fun. Andrew Exeter’s design matches, and supersedes, the sheer pizzazz. The Other Palace is transformed into a candied, Wonka-like, emporium. Part disco, part adventure playground; shimmering with colours that overflow with e-numbers. You can taste the sweetness of the set.

The performances are the main attraction. Despite most of their energy being channelled into Tinovimbanashe Sibanda’s slick choreography, the cast of six unleash their glorious voices to the crowd with the dynamism and craftmanship befitting the cream of Musical Theatre. Clay’s songs and lyrics are given the starry treatment and they have the appeal to stand their ground, but “Millennials”, as a show, lacks the cohesive ingredients to ensure a similar longevity. But as a gig, it’s a pretty good night out.

 

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior

 


Millennials

The Other Palace until 7th August

 

All our reviews this month so far – click to read:

I Can’t Hear You | ★★★★ | Theatre503 | July 2022

The Hive | ★★★ | Hoxton Hall | July 2022

Report to an Academy | | Old Red Lion Theatre | July 2022

Barefoot in the Park | ★★★★ | The Mill at Sonning | July 2022

Flat and Curves | ★★★★★ | Toulouse Lautrec | July 2022

Hungry | ★★★★★ | Soho Theatre | July 2022

Pennyroyal | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | July 2022

Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet | ★★★★ | Leicester Square Theatre | July 2022

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

In Pieces

★★½

Online via stream.theatre

In Pieces

In Pieces

Online via Stream.theatre

Reviewed – 21st April 2021

★★½

 

“the songs are so samey that it takes away any sort of specificity or distinction from the show’s voice”

 

Song cycles often have a sense of purity about them. Unrestrained by trivialities such as plot or character arcs, they’re a platform for composers, lyricists, and performers to put their talents centre stage with a diverse range of songs framed around a loose connective theme. It’s a compelling and proven format, and can launch careers if done well – see Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World, for example. In Pieces, however, doesn’t quite manage to hit the mark.

Assembled from songs by Joey Contreras and directed by Louis Rayneau, In Pieces is a musical film from Future Spotlight Productions, focusing on the pieces that make up the love lives of eight unconnected New Yorkers (and their dance ensemble). The songs explore typical romantic moments such as crushes, first kisses, and wistful run-ins with ex-partners using the pop-heavy anthemic musical theatre style that Pasek & Paul have dominated new musicals with through the likes of Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman. Unfortunately, In Pieces suffers from all of Contreras’ songs sounding like this.

With every song being so similar in style, length, and subject matter, it causes the show to tonally flatline and brings the pace down to a crawl. Contreras’ music is certainly easy on the ear, but there are only so many ballads on wanting to be loved you can hear in a row. There are some standouts, however: Jordan Luke Gage brings some earthy angst with This is Not Me, Beccy Lane delivers poignant storytelling with Another New York Love Story, and Hiba Elchikhe and Luke Street ratchet up the tempo with I Could Fall. The opening and closing songs, which feature the whole cast, give the opportunity for some absolutely gorgeous harmonies and make you wish there were more group numbers outside of those bookends. All the cast are on top form vocally, particularly Kyle Birch, who constantly impresses without ever coming off as showy.

There’s also some great choreography on offer from Rachel Sargent, especially in numbers such as First Sign of Forever where it’s utilised for some really sweet storytelling. Other times, the use of the dance ensemble feels underthought, or neglected by the cinematography. The filming took place in Kidzania, a child-scaled indoor city in London, presumably to try to evoke New York, but it unfortunately makes the set look somewhat tacky and amateurish.

It’s clear that In Pieces was made with the best intentions: everyone commits 100% to the material, and it’s great to see the unabashed queer representation and celebration on display. However, the songs are so samey that it takes away any sort of specificity or distinction from the show’s voice, and as a result In Pieces struggles to engage.

 

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Liz Heinrichs

 


In Pieces

Online via stream.theatre until 26th April

 

Reviewed by Ethan this year:
Shook | ★★★★★ | Online | February 2021

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews