Book, Music, and Lyrics: Scott Alan
Director: Kirk Jameson
Song cycle The Distance You Have Come is focussed on three couples, each in different phase of their own journey of love. There’s a newly met, madly in love, gay couple, at the start of their love journey; a lesbian couple who have just come to the realisation that they’re not in love any more, and a former boyfriend and girlfriend whose circumstances have taken them on very separate paths, despite some deep held feelings between them.
The narrative is told through a selection of, composer and songwriter, Scott Alan’s songs, presented as loosely connected performances. There’s limited narrative between the songs, and the weight of the narrative is delivered through the lyrics.
The show covers a 12-month period in the characters lives and is clearly split into two key mood sections. The first half of the show sets up each character and their relationship situation, the second half delivers the resolution for each character’s emotional state during this time.
With the bulk of the characters going though some form of distress at the start of their journey, the first act is musically flat – of the eight or so songs in the first half, only one has the potential to get one’s toes moving. This tune aside, provided by the one note of happiness as our gay couple fall in love, the first half is distressingly maudlin. Whilst alone or in a different context these songs are strong and sure to pack a punch, performed one after the other, the lack of musical and emotional variety blurs them into a depressing, and distressing, melting pot of misery.
The second half sees the characters find their own resolutions and, in doing so, happiness. The musical tempo thankfully jumps up several notches, and we’re given a wider range of musical and emotional content.
The show has a very stripped back production; the six performers are supported by a cello-keyboard-violin trio that, despite solid performance and production, seems too weak to effectively support the variable vocal talents on stage. The singers’ capabilities vary and, whilst giving strong and emotionally charged performances, are all a touch excessive. There are some very powerful voices on display, but they fail to deliver much in the form of range, and often come across as shouty rather than expressive and, in the process, drown out the musical accompaniment.
As with the singing, the direction also comes across as a bit ‘one-note’. With each character starting in such emotionally charged situations, the production doesn’t offer enough variety for either the songs or the characters to go anywhere, and similarly, the direction plays it on-the-nose and lacks any subtlety or variance.
This production is part of the Rising Stars Festival, a 5-month programme across Nimax Theatres’ six London venues, giving young producers the opportunity to showcase a production on the West End stage. With this in mind, there’s much to be admired about the emerging talents on display but they’ll need some refinement for a longer West End run.
Next performance 28 June 2021