Simon Ward reviews I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical now streaming on Kings Head TV
It is over a year since I last wrote a review for The Peg and although I have really missed doing it, the idea of reviewing a streaming version of a show did not fill me with delight. However, I have a soft spot for the King’s Head, so when I heard about their project to make streams of shows recorded live available on demand, I finally succumbed.
I was also intrigued by the title. I have often mused on the possibility of real life and life as represented in musical theatre coming together in a hopefully hilarious and heartwarming way.
A strong cast (Charlotte O’Rourke, Charlotte Anne Steen, Luke Bayer and Lucas Rush) do a sterling job working through the numbers by Alexander S. Bermange as they chronicle the trials and tribulations of musical theatre, both for those on stage and those in the audience.
There is the kernel of a great show in the title number, something like the movie Enchanted perhaps, but what we get is not so much our life reimagined as a musical as the relentless grind of the musical world presented as life. Endless auditions where you wait for hours and they barely listen, followed by inevitable rejections, then when you do get a part it’s tiny, or has exhausting choreography, or your brilliant take as an understudy is underappreciated.
The songs are witty an amusing, the music enjoyable if not memorable. But as we see four disparate characters chart their way through choppy waters, there is not enough progression or development, and in the end the effect can seem rather wearing. Tongue-in-cheek is funny for a while but can outstay its welcome. I would have liked more of a narrative flow and some character development. Perhaps this should be viewed as a revue rather than a play, but even so, I did not find enough variation in tone and the songs ended up sounding too similar to each other. Nevertheless there are comic nuggets dotted throughout and it is a beguiling way to spend an hour. Everyone will find a favourite moment – for me the desperate login to book 13 months in advance for a star performer only to hear the dreaded ‘indisposition’ announcement as you take your seat rang funny and true. Towards the end there is some genuine emotion as they sing about why they keep going in spite of the preceding travails.
All in all, this is one form which desperately misses an audience as big number after big number reaches a rousing climax but with no-one there to respond. Let’s hope it will not be too long before there will be a real audience to appreciate them.
Showing as part of the King’s Head Theatre’s digital season, Plays On Film. The show will be available to watch via the venue’s on demand streaming service, KHTV, from anywhere in the world until 12th May.
I was eager to catch the streamed production, as the show was always sold out whenever I tried to book tickets in Edinburgh. My family and I agree with all those Edinburgh critics who gave it five stars – the writing is first-class and it’s easily one of the most impressive streamed shows I have seen in the last year.