BWW Reviews: PICTURE PERFECT, St. James Studio, 31st May, 2014
Picture Perfect, a gloriously sung revue of the work of Scott Evan Davis, provides a reassuring look at the talent working in new musical theatre both in the UK and the USA. Conceived by Simon Greiff, Davis' material is pieced together with the help of occasional fragments of dialogue to create an engaging portrait of a family in trouble.
Led by Joel Harper-Jackson as anchorless son Josh, the four-strong cast present an imperilled family unit: Jérôme Pradon's Harry is found out by his wife Elizabeth (Helen Hobson) as unfaithful, and their collective views of love and relationships are put to the test. Pradon and Hobson exhibit effortless chemistry, with Hobson particularly engaging as the torn and confused wife.
The younger pair, Harper-Jackson and an effervescent Charlotte Wakefield, are equally splendid - Harper-Jackson gives a wonderfully understated performance, his 'More Than Just Sundays' being one of the show's most moving moments. Charlotte Wakefield, as the sarcastic, yearning Ellie, is a delight. In one of the piece's few light-hearted songs, 'He's Perfect', Wakefield displayed exemplary comic timing and flawless vocals. Indeed, the singing throughout was pitch perfect, and no insignificant credit must go to Musical Director and pianist Colin Billing for his work.
As a score, Picture Perfect is not without problems. The songs jolted between contemporary musical theatre balladry (and frequently beautiful they were) and more complex, Sondheim-esque numbers without the lyrical light touch of their progenitor. Despite this substantive inconsistency, Simon Greiff does an impressive job weaving these disparate songs together to form a cohesive story - the characters are amply fleshed out using Davis' songs and the limited space in the St. James Studio is used effectively, the minimal set all that is required by the piece.
Running only four performances at the St James, hopefully this is not the last that we shall see of Picture Perfect, or indeed of Davis' work on this side of the Atlantic.
Photo credit: Jamie Scott-Smith, West End Video
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