BWW Review: THE GATHERING - A Brilliant New Australian Work
It's always exciting to see a new Australian musical on display. Often they are in a development phase and rarely do they have a return life. First presented in 2011, Belinda Jenkin and Will Hannagan's musical The Gathering has been re-worked and is now being produced by Vic Theatre Company at 45 Downstairs. The musical thriller delicately touches on themes of mental health, identity, abandonment and friendship. It follows the life of Tom (Joel Granger), who returns home after running away for 5 years and invites his friends to his new home for a housewarming, encouraging them to move in with him. As the night progresses, secrets are unfurled and truths are revealed.
An ensemble of 6 fine young performers brilliantly tells the thought-provoking story. They have a wonderful connection and synergy in bringing the work to life. Granger fully embodies the character of Tom, vocally, physically and emotionally, delivering a very heartfelt performance. Shannen Alyce Quan's beautiful 'Sweet December Feelings' is a stunning ballad showcasing her powerhouse vocals. Hannah Sullivan McInerny as Daisy delivers some very sweet folk vocals. She effortlessly traverses the score with her smooth lilting tone and captures the eeriness of the supernatural in the story with her sense of forewarning. Daniel Assetta as Luke brings a great sense of fun and camp to the show, his vocal performance is stunning and he is completely committed to the character from the moment he enters the stage. Olivia Charalambous showcases her fine voice as the fun, quirky, awkward Mia and Daniel Cosgrove as Joe captures the angst and uncertainty that a break up will bring coupled with the stress and heartbreak that grips anyone who is experiencing a loss.
The Gathering is particularly well directed by Chris Parker. He captures the nuance that the piece elicits and manipulates Daniel Harvey's very clever set design perfectly. Daniel Puckey's musical direction and arrangements lift the work with the versatility of the score being a genuine feature. The venue is also ideal for the work, with the rendered brick and high beams reminiscent of the old abandoned house the musical is set in.
The Gathering is a new, very exciting Australian musical that has all the potential to continue on the path of development and continue to be transformed into an even greater work. That's not to say it isn't already great, it really is. With its very vibrant, exciting, dynamic young cast coupled with some inspired direction and exciting writing this new musical should not be missed.
Flinders Lane Melbourne
Until Dec 11