Reviewed by Frances Revel
Like most of the characters in LIFT – the musical, I’m not sure how I feel. I had high expectations for a show which featured the likes of Wicked’s Nikki Davis-Jones, Avenue Q’s Julie Atherton and Sister Act’s Cynthia Erivo, but after the 75 minutes was up I wasn’t entirely convinced.
LIFT has many of the ingredients for a unique, innovative piece. It focusses on the hidden lives of strangers stuck in a Covent Garden station lift together. Given the sheer diversity in the backgrounds and sexual preferences of your average group of Londoners it was no surprise that the key narratives played out were the sexual confusions of a Geordie ballet dancer, and a frustrated lesbian languages teacher. But it almost felt a little bit tick-box in its inclusivity. To me it felt like they had missed the opportunity to better explore the characters’ backstories with a wider range of real-life problems and issues – like work, money, children, living situations – in place of a relentless and unrivalled focus on their longing for love.
The musical numbers were consistently similar, angst driven outpourings swelling to a crescendo of realisation. Were it not for the strong vocals from the whole cast, this may have become tedious after about ten minues. The performance of note for me came from Cynthia Erivo; whose solo made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
There is a lot to like about it too. Elements which worked particularly well included the use of the beautiful American couple as proxies for the chat room sex-chats between the stereotypical, uptight businessmen and aforementioned ballet dancer – and this indeed provided much of the humour. It wasn’t difficult to identify with their conundrums and heartaches, proving that Craig Adams and Ian Watson do have a strong handle on the wrecking ball of emotions that we all carry around.
All in all, a pleasant evening and it definitely provided some food for thought. The cast are well chosen for their roles, and the concept intriguing. It’s a bitesize chunk of new theatre for the modern Londoner – and will certainly make me look at those around me next time I step off that tube and into the elevator.
LIFT plays at the Soho Theatre until 25th February 2013. For tickets click here