Review: [title of show]

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

It was not until after ‘[title of show]’ had ended that I was told I had to review it for this newspaper. Perhaps not told, but asked with a fair amount of force by Co-Musical Director Lengana Mashaphu. As it turns out, it is a pleasure to write: Tone Deaf Theatre Company’s latest production is a beautiful portrayal of a theatre industry story.

The show, ‘a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical’, is led by Oscar Scott as Hunter (Bell, who penned the script) and as Jeff (Bowen, who composed the music and wrote lyrics); the pair certainly bring a likeable, friendly energy to the relationship.

Scott is in his element, covering the stage with relentless energy and deploying incisive comic timing

Scott is in his element, covering the stage with relentless energy and deploying incisive comic timing, while Allderidge masterfully counters with dryer humour and embodies Jeff’s more measured personality excellently. There is a genuine trust between the two which sensitively conveyed the closeness of the original actors in their roles.

Working together, Hunter and Jeff work to enter the inaugural New York Musical Theatre Festival, resolving to write an original production in just three weeks. Their friends Heidi and Susan are enlisted to aid their cause, played by and Issey Dodd. The two are pleasingly versatile throughout the show, reaching similar ranges; Fletcher’s Heidi effortlessly moving from light-hearted comedy to more serious concerns over employment and her place in the show, while Dodd is hilarious as Susan but is able to express deeper emotions when the moment calls. Fletcher and Dodd bounce off each other well and, much like Scott and Allderidge, there is clearly a genuine friendship, hopefully one that can survive a misplaced flapjack.

The four take the audience through the difficult and prolonged stages of gaining success, first entering and being accepted into the festival, before attempting to make it onto Broadway. As the show progresses, the characters navigate a mix of emotions, as tension builds and dissipates between Hunter and Jeff, while Heidi and Susan are forced to reckon with casting choices and managing their day jobs. This particular pot boils over in the remarkable well executed ‘Awkward Photo Shoot’, which is perhaps the moment where every exceptional element of the show combines to perfection. The physical comedy from the cast, the music from Mashaphu’s Co-Musical Director Carolyn Leung, the camera flashes from the lights, the increasing tension as legs are flung into arms in progressively more bizarre and pained poses: wonderful.

Completing the cast is Leung, who provides the soundscape from the stage and perfectly delivers accompanist Larry’s sharp lines. Leung and Mashaphu, assisted by Rosa Aziz, execute their task with ease; the sound is gorgeous and the singing, needless to say with this cast, is sublime.

Fletcher and Dodd bounce off each other well and, much like Scott and Allderidge, there is clearly a genuine friendship

’s direction, assisted by and Jennifer Lafferty, is equally glorious, deftly doing justice to the exaggerated comedy in the script while also allowing time for the more serious elements of the story to breathe. Hart has clearly poured dedication into this project, and it shows; the product is visually exquisite.

Complimenting this is some wonderful technical skill on display from and Piers Holden, who use lighting in particular to brilliant ends, with notable examples coming with the phone call spotlights and camera flashes, alongside the expert use of a range of colours to emphasise the often sharp changes in mood.

The team is completed by the legendary producer Ellen Olley and is one that clearly adores their show. Through this creative and striking staging in Hild Bede’s Caedmon Hall, ‘[title of show]’ has shown that it is not one to be missed.

Image: Tone Deaf Theatre Company

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