Saturday 2 August 2014

Edges @ The Tabard Theatre


This production at the Tabard Theatre London might mark the UK professional debut of Edges, but it's definitely something of a fashionable show at the moment.  A song cycle of contemporary musical theatre songs exploring coming of age issues, its songs have become particularly popular among twentysomethings not only for the subject matter but for the ease of which the show can be produced for fringe and other small-scale venues.

Originally written in 2005, the musical is already beginning to show its age through its various 00s references, so it's surprising that it's taken so long for a professional production to arrive in the UK.  In particular, the show's most famous song "Be My Friend" (a.k.a The Facebook Song) already feels dated - all the cool kids are on Twitter nowadays.

This production, directed by Adam Philpott, has attempted to provide a slight overarching narrative to link the songs together, exploring the connections between four friends.  It's a clever idea but it doesn't always flow smoothly from song to song: if the four actors are meant to be playing the same characters throughout, there are some jarring shifts in personality and supposed narrative.  It does, however, provide a sense of progression, from the heartbreak of songs like I've Gotta Run to the full company penultimate number Ready To Be Loved.

The four actors also have a welcome dynamic between them, but their banter between songs is often too quiet.  Indeed, throughout the hour-long show some comedy moments are frustratingly underplayed, whilst others are misjudged.  Mostly, the two male characters are distinctly unlikeable and immature: from the annoying frat boy humour of Pretty Sweet Day, to the insensitive simulated gay sex in Man Of My Dreams.

By contrast, the two female performers are excellent.  Rebecca Jayne-Davis offers a cutesy performance with a big voice for such a small frame.  Mostly though, eyes and ears will be drawn to the stage presence of Christina Modestou.  Fresh from her role as Nina in the UK premiere of In The Heights, she performs with great maturity, believable acting that draws us into each of her solos, and a powerful and confident vocal.  She is the star in a fun and uplifting show aimed squarely at a young audience.

3/5

Watch: Edges runs at the Tabard Theatre until 30th August.