Writers: David Hunter & Caroline Kay
Throughout all of the exceptional online events, recordings, and live theatre, one genre has never grasped the chilling sensations it can achieve within those hallowed halls across the country: musicals. The Space Between, a new musical short written and performed in lockdown, rekindles the hearts of musical fans, and elevates the ingenuity of online content into a different genre.
Created in an effort to raise money for Theatre Artists Fun, designed to support theatre workers in these stressful times, The Space Between takes tremendous steps to secure its community by demonstrating the anxieties and stresses we share.
A story as old as time, about Him & Her, a young couple who fracture and fray in lockdown conditions. He bemoans to his pals about how she always makes the same decision to walk away, while Her complains to her mother about his irritating nature. Sounds familiar, right? The chemistry between David Hunter and Caroline Kay is a difficult one to forge given the lack of a physical connection, but it’s evident in their lyrical creations. Hunter’s realisations and fears of not being in Her life are as equally professionally written as Kay’s back and forth over how she truly feels.
Intertextual, the means of communication as the pair attempt to talk over Zoom calls, texts and Facetimes are seamless in transitions fading between one another to introduce new numbers. We’ve all been there, typing and re-typing endless messages to partners during an argument, one where we apologise, where we place blame and ultimately, just an olive branch. The sentiment of Hunter and Kay’s performance is recognisable for couples in lockdown, and in general life. Vocally, Hunter’s clarity is exceptional, and his control evident across the numbers. Mesmeric, when able to cut loose the pair have glorious harmonies which are a damn sight more impressive than a digital musical has any right to be.
Here’s the rub, musicals rely on pushing heightened emotions to the extreme – it’s the only means possible to carry voices without the narrative seeming ridiculous, and the close-up nature of The Space Between takes getting used to. Ultimately quite tender, The Space Between finds a pleasant place as a visual piece closer to a short film but retaining its belting attitude and desire for the stage.
Perhaps equally, if not more so impressive, Nick Barstow’s musical arrangement for The Space Between has ripples of West End quality. With only three numbers, there’s a brief amount of time to gauge an entire relationship, and Hunter and Kay are no doubt aided by the differing tones of Barstow’s arrangement, stretching from bouncing and jovial to a rich emotional score taking sombre notes.
The show will leave you greedy for more, and The Space Between has room for more, and while usually a sin of avarice, it also needs more. The characters of Him and Her aren’t given enough time to allow for a genuine connection, and as clear and robust as the vocals are, there’s room for building on the talent. As a breaker until live entertainment returns to the norm, The Space Between whets enough of an appetite to entice but finishes just as investment begins to emerge.