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BWW Review: I COULD USE A DRINK, Garrick Theatre

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A directionless debut, but filled to the brim with pure musical theatre talent.

BWW Review: I COULD USE A DRINK, Garrick Theatre

BWW Review: I COULD USE A DRINK, Garrick Theatre Sometimes theatre shows don't work out. Some can feel like watching a train-wreck in slow motion, and others build a brick wall without any mortar to keep the pieces together. It takes nothing but a slight push for the latter to disintegrate. I Could Use a Drink is a mix of both under director Alex Conder.

Drew Gasparini's song cycle had its West End premiere last night as a filler show on the Garrick stage while the building awaits for their next run. Initially released as a concept album in 2013, it features some very good numbers that would work perfectly as audition songs. But, as a full production, the collection falls short. Very short.

It doesn't take long for the project to reveal itself as directionless, but filled to the brim with pure musical theatre talent. Unfortunately, it comes off as not having a leader, a vision, or a purpose. While the voices in the cast are unquestionably splendid, there are too many issues with its foundations to be a successful staging.

The frontal concert-like presentation is limiting in its delivery and prevents the storytelling from flowing from one track to the next. While song cycles usually don't have a real storyline, there is a solid theme throughout and smaller stories can be found. Here, instead, we only have disconnection within the material.

Even the songs that evidently interconnect feel distant and closed off. There is no glue that holds them together, besides the exceptional skills of their performers. It almost looks like a (very expensive) drama school showcase or a talent-show. But it's not, and the production misses the mark by a mile or so.

In all this, there are actors that the Theatreland needs to keep an eye on, like Billy Nevers and Maiya Quansah-Breed. The cast's strengths are on full display, with Gasparini's tunes helping them soar and shine, but so are their weaknesses.

The numbers come one after the other and generally compliment their voices and ranges. However, there's no need to push and force big notes out of a head voice. Not everyone is a belter, and that's okay.

With clearer direction (or at least any at all) and better contextual framing, I Could Use a Drink could have had a favourable West End debut. Given that it was a one off, it's not the end of the world. Onwards and upwards!


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