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EDINBURGH 2016 - BWW Review: NO HORIZON, Underbelly Med Quad, 15 August

EDINBURGH 2016 - BWW Review: NO HORIZON, Underbelly Med Quad, 15 August

EDINBURGH 2016 - BWW Review: NO HORIZON, Underbelly Med Quad, 15 AugustNew musical No Horizon has been garnering a good deal of attention, with airings on Elaine Paige's radio show, and Chris Evans dubbing it "the Yorkshire Les Mis".

It would perhaps be fairer to say it is in the vein of The Theory of Everything, only with added Yorkshire charm. Based on a true story, No Horizon depicts the life of Nicholas Saunderson, a young Yorkshireman who was blinded by smallpox as a baby. Despite his humble origins and disability in a time before the invention of braille, his incredible mind leads him to success at Cambridge, where he becomes the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a post held by the likes of Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking.

Nicholas, played by Sam Reid, sang beautifully, though occasionally did not convince as a blind man. As his romantic interest Abigail, the daughter of a vicar who disapproves of Nicholas due to his atheism, Sophie Bradley made a marvellously sweet ingenue.

Joshua, the lazy young nobleman who brings Nicholas to Cambridge as his tutor, was played with natural charm and delicious comic timing by understudy Nathaniel Laydon. The male ensemble backed him up with relish as Cambridge students, particularly in a delightful number on the merits of being "thick". Indeed, in the cast as a whole, vocals are uniformly
strong. There is a tendency towards dithering at times in the acting, but the numbers with more precise blocking are delivered with flair.

The cast are supported with a simple but effective design, with projection on movable panels successfully evoking the locations of Yorkshire and Cambridge. The lyrics may on occasion slip into triteness, but the score is varied enough to keep interest throughout, including a memorable finale number, combined with a beautifully appropriate lighting effect.

Written and produced within the area of Saunderson's birth, and with a cast of local performers, this is a true community show, created and presented with clear passion and exemplary professionalism. This is an ambitious production, worth discovering early as its creators certainly have hopes to bring it to a wider audience. With No Horizon, Penistone Community Association have done justice to Nicholas Saunderson's story and done their community proud.

No Horizon is at Underbelly Med Quad from August 17 to 27 at 17:00.

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