Book: Brian Hill
Music: Neil Bartram
Director: Matthew Rankcom
We are back in business! A full house (covid-safe of course), indoors, drinks in hand, looking out at a proper set. Strange things to pine for, and pine we did. But not a jot longer.
Neil Bartram and Brian Hill’s You Are Here is perfect post-lockdown watching, jaunting right up to saccharine territory, taking a sharp turn just in time and landing somewhere both comforting and enriching. If you’re absolutely desperate to get a dose of cultural goodness, but you’re not quite ready for a four-hour Brecht play, this is just the ticket.
Beginning on the 20 July, 1969 Diana, a housewife, watches the TV set as astronauts make their first landing on the moon: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Inspired by their bravery, Diana decides to have an adventure of her own, and simply picks up her purse and walks out of the house.
Whilst this isn’t quite a one-woman musical, the burden falls mostly on Wendi Peters who carries it with grace. Her voice is both pure and husky, and manages to embody her character’s ever-clashing plucky mischief and self-doubt. She’s a pleasure to watch, never once tiring the audience of her company, constant as it is.
For the most part, the rest of the cast provides tight harmonies and comic support, and after a year of largely one-person productions it’s just nice to see a bunch of people on stage together. But in her short solo, Jordan Frazier stands apart. It’s a shame we’re not given more of an opportunity to hear her effortless runs and quiet power, but it’s a glorious surprise to hear her, having watched her a full 45 minutes beforehand. Like discovering your dress has pockets half-way through the day.
Libby Todd’s design is simple yet purposeful. A conversation pit functions as all manner of furniture, and a large cement moon cut-out covers the back-drop, serving as reminder that Diana’s life may seem small in one respect, but her bravery is massive. “One small step” and so on.
And what a pleasure to have accompanying live musicians, as conducted by Laura Bangay. Hidden in blackened balconies above the audience, there’s something strangely luxurious about knowing the music is live, but not being able to locate it.
Though You Are Here is far from edgy, it is surprising and nourishing in the way new theatre should be. Uplifting and funny, without being reality-blind, this is exactly what we need right now.
Runs until 12 June 2021 and livestreamed on 22 May 2021