From Up Here reviewed
Amy Danbrowsky • Published 21 Jun 2012 11:00 0 Comments
On Thursday, June 14, I attended the world premiere performance of brand new musical From Up Here, by Aaron Lee Lambert.
The Wilde Theatre was packed to full capacity and the atmosphere was buzzing in anticipation of the intriguing tale and the prospect of it being filmed as part of another first, the live streaming of a performance from South Hill Park.
Pitch Perfect, of which Stephen Fry is a patron, is a theatre company which works with actors to develop their work and help it reach maximum potential before it heads to the stage - and they did a brilliant job with this.
Set aloft New York's East River on the Brooklyn Bridge, five characters find solace from the pain of their existence in the fresh air and still, soothing night. Their lives intertwine and, ultimately, they save themselves from making the biggest leaps of their lives.
The scene was set perfectly, with an impressive reconstruction of a section of the bridge built on stage. The music was also beautifully orchestrated and faultless and the attention to detail, with smoke filtering through the scenes and clever use of dark blue mood lighting, led you from the audience into the character's worlds with utter fluidity.
With such a dark theme trickling through the piece, it was always going to be challenging to create something sympathetic but not entirely downcast. However, the hugely talented and experienced cast handled this well, bringing humour and touching emotion to the piece. I do feel some characters needed to explain their stories more for the audience to feel a true connection with them. I also feel the use of the same song throughout much of the performance, although giving the audience something familiar to connect with, did make my attention drift at times.
Saying that, I loved the mixture of light and dark elements, and the characters of the pregnant girl, Jill, played by Lisa Kerr, and 'city slicker', Alan, played by Russell Walker, were extremely funny and brilliantly well played. The heartwarming relationship between the troubled old man, Henry, played by Tony Kemp, and headstrong young Emily, played by Leila Benn-Harris, was truly pleasant to witness.
The use of Emily's partner Dan's (played by Tommy Sherlock) camera, to capture the lives and different perspectives of the characters on the bridge cleverly tied in with the notions of being up on the bridge, suspended from all troubles, and obtaining a fresh view on reality. Equally, it worked to underpin the way each character put on a brave face in the light of day, but once the night fell showed their true feelings - just as a camera can capture an image that creates an illusion of reality.
Overall, it was perfectly performed and executed, contained genuine laughs and tearjerking moments and gets a thumbs up from me.
This article appeared in Bracknell News 21 Jun 12