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Review: Little Triangle Theatre Company Reconsiders Sondheim's Relationship Songs With A Queer Lens In ISN'T IT QUEER?


Review: Little Triangle Theatre Company Reconsiders Sondheim's Relationship Songs With A Queer Lens In ISN'T IT QUEER?

Wednesday 20th April 2022, 7:30pm, PACT Theatre Erskineville

Little Triangle Theatre Company reframes Stephen Sondheim's relationship songs with an entertaining revue ISN'T IT QUEER? where love stories originally written for heterosexual connections are presented by different voices and pairings. Rendered with a delightful creativity and simplicity, well known and more obscure works are given a fresh take.

Most musical theatre stories about relationships focus on heterosexual relationships and Stephen Sondheim's multitude of successful musicals were, for the most part, no different in this respect even though the acclaimed American composer, songwriter and lyricist was gay. Under Alexander Andrews' direction, the company of Little Triangle's latest show pay tribute to the late legend by taking 28 songs to tell five new queer love stories. The Warehouse theatre space of PACT Theatre is simply dressed with half a dozen retro theatre seats and an assortment of basic black chairs in front of six-foot lettering that reinforces the theme of the show, QUEER. This allows the focus to remain on the black and red clad ensemble that represent the diversity of the Queer community. For opening night one of the billed cast was unfortunately unwell but the audience was treated to Music Director Alec Steedman occasionally putting down their violin to step into the role.

As with Little Triangle's previous works, the quality of singing and acting is incredibly high and these relative newcomers to the Sydney Musical Theatre stage, Jahla Black, Gavin Brown, Phoebe Clark, Blake Condon, Andy Freeborn, Samuel Hurley, Addy Robertson, Marissa Saroca and Jack Francis West are definitely names to keep an eye on. Andrews refreshingly ensures that this work remains grounded in its new storytelling by keeping the accents natural to the performers, not trying to force American accents on the characters but rather allowing the performer to give of themselves and express their connection and understanding of the lyrics more honestly. Each performer has a strong understanding of how to engage the audience in the intimate space, making eye contact, ensuring that the audience feels like the character is sharing their secrets with them personally. The physicality of the work ranges from fantastically fun in its overt suggestion to poignantly restrained as songs and sub-stories remind the audience that relationships aren't always perfect and positive.

Whilst it is understood that this season of ISN'T IT QUEER? is sold out, possibly see if there are any last-minute seats available as this is a wonderful showcase of newcomers delivering a delightful homage to Stephen Sondheim. Failing that, hopefully Little Triangle will arrange for an encore season soon.

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