Director: Tori Allen-Martin
Composer: Tim Prottey-Jones
Lyrics: Tori Allen-Martin and Tim Prottey-Jones
Reviewer: Fran Beaton
To be told upon going into the auditorium that the first act will be ninety minutes long is enough to disconcert even the most seasoned theatre goer. However, the reputation of Interval Productions, with the success of Another Way late last year, dissuaded the unease, along with confidence in the winning writer/composer combination of Tori Allen-Martin and Tim Prottey-Jones.
Equally is a new musical about deceit and the stress of external pressures on a marriage. It is set in suburbia and follows the lives of Orianna (Jennifer Potts) and Dillon (Shaun Chambers), an apparently happily married couple, Tristan (Will Bridges), an up-and-coming rock star, and Lila (Ambra Caserotti), a city girl who has moved out of London to care for her ailing mother.
The music in this show is wonderful. Prottey-Jones, who most would recognise from ITV’s Superstar, is an amazing talent. Along with the remarkable Allen-Martin, this is certainly a duo to watch. Unfortunately, the songs are not prevalent enough. The piece kicks off with two memorable tunes but the hiatus before the third is way too long. This piece needs more songs and much less dialogue.
That said, the script is clever and very witty in places. Allen-Martin has a wonderful skill for observation. Some of her characters begin a little two dimensional but develop beautifully over the course of the piece, particularly Dillon (Chambers). Lila (Caserotti) is written superbly accurately – the audience fall for her in the very first scene. That said, the script lacks subtlety, mostly due to the length of the piece. Allen-Martin understands the need not to portray some key aspects of the plot – for example the affair between Dillon and Lila happens almost entirely off stage. She should apply this skill to more of the plot as parts of it are overlaboured and sluggish.
The star of the show is Caserotti. She has a voice to send shivers down the spine. Every note looks effortless and she acts beautifully throughout all the numbers. It is a shame she only has two big songs as ‘Regret Me’ is the crowning moment of the whole piece. The chemistry between Caserotti and Chambers is palpable. Chambers too can really belt out some incredibly challenging melodies, such as ‘Choose to Make’. It is clear the cast have been chosen for their vocal abilities: Bridges’ voice has an energetic, rock quality that is as pleasing to the ear as he is on the eye. Potts has a tendency to over sing and come out of character in the songs but she has a charming naivety and vulnerability in her voice that is perfect for her character.
Despite the small, studio setting, there is a large ensemble. They make an amazing sound and perform great harmonies, yet seem superfluous. While there is a selection of minor parts that they play very well, they clutter the stage and pull focus from the main action. The piece would work just as well with just two or three in the ensemble.
Equally has its quirks but it is a hugely exciting piece of theatre. Allen-Martin is one to watch, especially in collaboration with Prottey-Jones. Though this perhaps did not live up to the heights of Another Way, Equally is another success story for Interval Productions.
Booking until 6th April