The Leftovers is a contemporary, ‘fly on the wall’, musical from Sheep Soup Productions, directed by Siobhán Cannon-Brownlie with music and lyrics by Nic Harvey and Rob Green.
The story takes place inside a recording studio, as a group of people loosely connected by the sudden death of their friend, Jodie, decide to club together to create a memorial album to remember their friend. The story takes us through the pain of loss and grief, as each of the five characters share the highs and lows of their memories of Jodie and together discover how to cope with the knowledge that their deceased friend was actually anything other than perfect.
Together, the characters gradually become friends, and use their collection of cards, letters and notebooks from Jodie to create ‘improvised’ music using a multitude of instruments including a box drum, violin, keyboard, guitars and bass guitars.
This story is a very interesting concept and I particularly enjoyed the tumultuous tension that was created between the characters as they discover the individual journeys they experienced with Jodie.
Each of the five actors were brilliant – there was no weak link in this cast. The musical talent of the team was very obvious, and I enjoyed that the vocal styles of the actors were far from standard ‘musical theatre’, making for quite a different sort of musical. Some of the music created between the characters was very moving and felt very real, with palpable grief and tension.
To no fault of the actors however, I did find myself getting quite bored early on in the show. What, in my opinion, could have massively benefited this production is some sort of structure. As a fly on the wall production, the show takes place across one continuous scene (which feels very, very long for a 2hr40 min production) with what can only be described as a truly conversational script. It really did feel like you were a fly on the wall of a recording studio, which made for some slow watching at times, as I’m sure it would be if you really were watching the exact process of an album being created.
As I was sat at the back, I also struggled to hear the words of the songs due to the lack of microphones causing vocals to be overshadowed by instruments slightly. This probably wouldn’t have been a problem had I known the songs, but due to the nature of this musical it seemed important for me to be able to hear the exact words sung and unfortunately this caused the meaning of some songs to be lost on me.
I enjoyed the concept, and it definitely had a few ‘laugh out loud’ moments. However, to make it really stand out, I feel that the script needs to be much shorter and punchier. At least an hour could do with being lost from this production and there seems to be very little to justify the length of it.
Reviewed by Rosie Bambury