Freya Smith – Music, Lyrics, Direction, Piano
Jack Williams – Music, Lyrics, Direction, Guitar
Last seen at the Fringe, the new musical, Part A, came to London for a one night only performance at St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden.
As a concept for a new show, Part A shows a lot of great ideas. The young writers, Freya Smith and Jack Williams, work together to make a new piece that has a lot of potential.
Written as a fragmented song cycle, with next to no dialogue, Part A zeros in on the various moments of a party – mostly the awkward ones. Each character gets a chance to sing and share a glimpse of whats going on in their heads, all supported by the exceptional 4 piece band. The opening number, “Beer Goggles”, really emphasised that the show is really more about the subtext of a party. While Part A lacked some key elements, mainly dialogue, plot and character interaction, it showcased itself to be a great starting point for a great show.
There’s a bit of everything at this party. Humor, heart, loneliness, embarrassment., there’s even, yes, a “Toilet Song”. Everybody at this party offers something to the mix. Most of the 6 cast members were comfortable in their performances and really took hold of the stage in delivering the material. One song that stands out (I can’t stop singing it) happens as one male character (Jay Worley), becomes uninterested with a guy he’s chatting to (Nicky Taliesin). Nicky’s character babbles on and on about existentialism and other fancy philosophical nonsense that both irritates and bores Jay’s character. He turns to the audience and says, to our agreement, “it’s no conversation for a party!” Amen.
Each song has a catchy sound and from what I could hear the lyrics were clever, but unfortunately, they were mostly swallowed up in the huge echoey rafters of St. Paul’s church. To no fault of the cast, I found it exceptionally difficult to hear. The cast were working against an electric bass, electric guitar, cajon and grand piano. As great as their sounds were as a company, the text was mostly lost behind the band and the acoustics of the venue.
That being said, what I could hear was absolutely brilliant. The female voices were particularly beautiful in their rich alto tone and blended well together. The comedy, notably the drunk phone call and the drunk dance moves, were delivered in an innocent, almost family-friendly kind of way. They poked fun at each other, at being a part of a generation where not being mainstream is actually mainstream, and they even showed us with a mixture of giddiness and sadness what happens when a potential lover is right under your nose. The simple choreography supported the show, albeit at times the lighting shadowed the faces of the performers. I guess, at a fringe venue in Edinburgh, it’s certain we’d have seen a different show.
The non-linear writing style does indeed work, but it needs more support in terms of dialogue. Characters were introduced suddenly with no real environment or context set for them. The tops and tails of the scenes need some attention in terms of transitioning from one moment to the next. These details and the fact all the characters were nameless, made it difficult to invest in the story. But again, part of it is there.
Part of Part A is definitely there, but it’s needing some more pieces before it can reach it’s full potential. Hopefully next time we will see it in a different venue. It’ll be good for this piece to develop further, as it does have a unique flare and interesting concept that can appeal to a wider audience, not just a part after all!
Review by Ruthie Luff