Tag Archives: Jordan Shaw

It’s Only Life – 4


It’s Only Life

Union Theatre

Reviewed – 15th June 2018


“Bucchino’s songs embrace the full spectrum of contemporary urban living with sensitivity and wit”


It’s Only Life, John Bucchino and Daisy Prince’s musical revue of twenty-three heart-breaking and hilarious songs, is already a well-known enterprise in the world of American musical theatre. And rightly so: Bucchino’s songs embrace the full spectrum of contemporary urban living with sensitivity and wit. Laid side by side, the songs dip, twist and soar, telling a collective story of stasis, desire, love, heartbreak and redemption.

The ensemble of five performers master these songs beautifully. Recent graduates Sammy Graham and Will Carey keep their cool amongst the more experienced performers Jennifer Harding, Noel Sullivan and Jordan Shaw, and, apart from some lyrics getting lost at the beginning, the vocals are flawless. Harding exudes pathos narrating the crossing paths of two lovers in ‘Sweet Dreams’, and Carey memorably toys with his audience in the hilarious ‘On My Bedside Table’, gritting his teeth trying to prove he is not at all phased by “the fact that you and I are definitely through”. ‘Grateful’ bookends the piece and allows Sullivan a moment to show off his vocal range and power. It’s refreshing that these performers can show restraint when it’s needed. This is a show about the songs and the story, not ego.

Justin Williams’ design stands out from the off. Cleverly using pastel blues, pinks, greens and oranges on a simple white background, Williams has created a space where props are close to hand and levels are used to maximum effect. Our stories can move from downtown bars to lonely bedrooms with little effort and give the songs a crucial context. Tania Azevedo’s direction too, is unflashy and in full service to the symphony of stories. No movement feels unnecessary, and the precision of the cast shows a wide variety of environments that the space itself would never allow.

The message of It’s Only Life is hardly original, but kindly reminds us to embrace the things we fear. These songs act as stepping stones, from risk to risk, and we can only learn as we go how best to get to the other side. Ultimately, it’s a redemptive and moving revue. I saw audience members crying, holding hands, laughing out loud. The ensemble, representing a sexually diverse Britain, behave familiarly with their audience as if to say: “These are our stories, but they’re yours too”. And that is where It’s Only Life really succeeds. Anyone can find a story here, or a moment, to relate to.

It’s Only Life is an unforgettably enjoyable experience that comes highly recommended. Great songs, great vocals, great emotions … what’s not to love?


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photogrpahy by Pamela Raith


It’s Only Life

Union Theatre until 7th July


Previously reviewed at this venue
Carmen 1808 | ★★★★★ | February 2018
The Cherry Orchard | ★★★★ | March 2018
Twang!! | ★★★★ | April 2018


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Tick, Tick … Boom!

Park Theatre

Opening Night – 8th May 2017


“Chris Jenkins as Jon delivers every emotion perfectly”


Tick, Tick … Boom! is Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical rock based musical set in New York in 1990. Originally a solo work and then adapted posthumously for three actors, it looks at how Jonathan (Chris Jenkins) deals with turning thirty, rejection both of his work and by his girlfriend Susan (Gillian Saker) and his relationship with his childhood friend, Michael (Jordan Shaw).

Set intimately in Park Theatre 90, the audience is always very close to the action feeling at times as though you are actually sat in that perfectly styled Soho flat (design by Nik Corrall).

The show starts with Jon sat in his flat and a ticking sound which he states is not a technical fault – this turns out to be slightly ironic as the first part of the show was dogged by some sound issues with vocals drifting and being lost.

The accomplished cast work well together with Saker and Shaw also effortlessly handling half a dozen or so minor roles. Chris Jenkins is a very believable Jon with a warm and charismatic approach he delivers every emotion perfectly.

Musical numbers are accompanied by a strong four piece band led by Gareth Bretherton. Ranging from witty digs at New York’s social climbers in ‘Sunday’ to powerful solo ballads such as ‘Come to Your Senses ‘ (sung beautifully by Gillian Saker).

Inevitably, there are a few tunes that seem very ‘Rent’ like (which isn’t a bad thing at all) and there are other similarities too; the New York setting, artistic crowd and the shadow of AIDS. Yet this is a very different show to Rent, by its autobiographical nature, it feels more believable.

Apart from the sound issues and a wobbly chair threatening to topple Chris Jenkins into the audience  (oh, and (geek alert) an out of place BT telephone handset in a 90s New York apartment) – this is a brilliant production of the lesser known Larson work. Bronagh Lagan’s direction, Nik Corrall’s design and Ben Roger’s lighting have brought a magic spark to the show making it ninety minutes that fly by leaving you wanting more.


Funny yet sad, powerful yet delicate, Tick! Tick! … Boom is one to see.




Tick! Tick! … Boom!

is at the Park Theatre until 27th May