Bethia Atkinson reviews ‘Edges: A Song Cycle’, definitely a must see performance this year.
[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n the waning hours of Term 3, the vocal hum and gentle musical strains floated out of the M&D Room as Shotgun’s fourth and final musical of the academic year opened. Edges: A Song Cycle does not follow a narrative of sorts but, through a multitude of songs, exploring the themes of relationships, both romantic and familial, coming of age and growing up. Each of the cast of 7actors provide their own spin on their characters, bringing clarity and life to the people they portray.
New Shotgun President Beth Cowley gives us both problematic and perky characters, her duet with fellow Shotgun veteran Devon Cairns brings to light the harsh reality of two sisters growing up at different speeds; their powerful vocals create a number that is both funny and excruciatingly realistic. Fellow Shotgun veterans Tom Chard and Henry Smith return in style, providing honest and often comic moments for the audience. Chard’s bitter ex-boyfriend rant has the audience in fits of laughter while Smith’s rendition of the character’s confused feelings for his girlfriend reminds them of that all too familiar feeling between a couple. The veterans are very much equally matched by the newcomers, whose powerhouse vocals provides the audience with just as much food for thought.
Gemma Salter has a strong performance and her female empowering numbers demonstrate her decisiveness as she walks away from her relationship. Her number is perhaps, a nod to Chard’s earlier solo, as well as a painful reminder of what it is like to realise you no longer love someone. However, all is not gloom as Emily Johnson gives a more comedic touch to a song about one woman’s dreams of her boyfriend. The content of this song contrasts with the devastating reality that, as her friends make her realise, her boyfriend is gay. A sensitive side is also seen in the idealisation of a relationship that can never happen. Shaun Hill, the final member of the cast, nearly steals the show with a heart-breaking suicide solo as he ponders what his life has been like and could have been like, reducing both audience and characters almost to tears. In what is mostly a fairly light-hearted show, the impact is made all the greater by the simplicity and rawness of the performance.
With a simple set of several rostra, or blocks, covered in black cloth juxtaposed by a single white cube, the set gives the actors flexibility to move around the stage as they need to. The additional use of the occasional prop helps to complement each character’s songs, without the need for unnecessary clutter. Adam Dolan’s fantastically simple direction gives the show a cut back yet powerful feel. The group numbers are just as strong as the solos – the four-part harmony at the close of the show, bringing the house down. Perhaps the show doesn’t have the wild or controversial topics that Shotgun’s previous performances have involved; however, Edges demonstrates that with some good music, strong vocals, and a clear vision, a successful musical can still be produced. Shotgun Theatre have certainly finished the year on a high note and we can only venture a guess at how successful the fifth academic year for this society will be.
by Bethia Atkinson
All image credits by Facebook