Debra Hall reviewer, greg oliver, Keith Pattison photographer, Musical theatre, sarah watson, sibling rivalry, simon bowman, The Belgrade Theatre, The Belgrade Theatre autumn season 2013, The Prodigals review
The Prodigals must have been viewed as an ambitious project to undertake. I do not think I have ever seen a modern tale told with so many competing factions and artistic contribution of separate kinds; in one presentation.
So what do we have? Well, one thing is that co-writers, Ray Goudie and Joe Harmston have still managed to have fun despite the serious undercurrent of the story. Scenes alternate between a band of serving men and women being put through grueling training exercises, to Kyle (Greg Oliver) and Kelly (Sarah Watson) performing on stage (while performing on stage) as the musical duo who found fame as The Prodigals, to the regiment doing the job they were trained to do in Afghanistan in true commando spirit; to the grave sending off of a fallen comrade for repatriation, to Kyle’s drug induced visions of the three loony n’loud, pink n’perky air hostesses… and so it goes.
In regard to relationship exploration, obviously, the love a father has for each of his sons is under scrutiny; we also witness sibling rivalry, we enjoy the warmth and ease of platonic type friendships displayed, and relish the conflict when the dysfunction of personalities gives reason to clash. Within the portrayals many defining features of the human condition are marked; dark and light.
This is a musical, and, amazingly, all of these elements mentioned, and more, comes together through original song, with some strong vocal performances, and contemporary dance.
Performances are skillful. Each character holds on to their strand of the story and remains consistent and convincing. This is a production with wide appeal, the energy and street style dancing, together with the references to modern culture in the song writing, and the script itself, will resonate with a younger audience. While the big issues like drug addiction = loss of life – IEDs = loss of life, and the more minor key rudiments revealed in the script writing, are matters most of us fret over, and involve ourselves with, on a daily basis.
For the best part this production gets my full vote, it took me a short while to engage appreciatively with it, although I was always completely in awe of the talent pool. One small negative is that prior to the interval much of the emotion is credible, later on, sentimentality is too gushing.
So much credit for areas where great merit has been achieved is down to the work of choreographer, Natalie Murdoch, military supervisor, Brendan Riding and the marvelous set design by Sean Cavanagh.
**** FOUR STARS
Note: Reviewer, Debra Hall, attended the press night showing of The Prodigals at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in an official capacity, on behalf of Remotegoat Stage. This Review also published here