I laughed, I cried but most importantly I thought. It’s Only Life at the Union Theatre is a powerful celebration of life and living the journey.
John Bucchino’s lyrics are witty and touching. The songs speak to real people, he has a raw and simple way of putting things that make you catch your breath. The music is stunning but not over indulgent and marry with the lyrics to swell the emotion.
The piece flows and carries a story even though there is no linear storyline, more a theme. At times an applause after every song felt a bit much, however the piece allows the actors to pass the baton between them, supporting each other as they tell their stories. There is always something to watch, which is supported by Justin Williams and Johnny Rust’s set – an intricate mishmash of objects and levels organised in pastel colours (accompanied by Clancy Flynn’s lighting the show looks stunning). The set is utilised really well by the cast who appear completely comfortable, gently telling their stories. One particularly impressive storyteller is Sammy Graham who is captivating on stage, whether she is singing or supporting you can’t take your eyes off of her. She supports the wonderful Jennifer Harding in “I’ve Learned to Let Things Go” beautifully, making it feel like a scene rather than a stand alone song. The show never feels static, it moves from comedy to heartbreak with ease, but never becoming to dark. One particularly fantastic moment is Noel Sullivan’s “Grateful” near the end of the show. In a moment that could’ve so easily become sad and nostalgic, the show lifts us up and makes us reflect on the journey we have just taken.
The show is truly fantastic and different from anything on at the moment. It is Sondheim meets Songs for a New World, so if that description excites you then head over to the Union now.
Reviewed by Kara Taylor Alberts
Photo: Pamela Raith