BWW Review: THE DISTANCE YOU HAVE COME, The Cockpit
Scott Alan premieres his new musical The Distance You Have Come in the intimate The Cockpit. Presented as a cycle of songs and with little-to-no dialogue, it sees a group of six people dealing with various degrees of desperation and challenges. A struggling actress (Emma Hutton), a broken lesbian couple (Alexia Khedime and Jodie Jacobs), an alcoholic (Dean John-Wilson) all grapple with the lingering uncertainty of life while the audience gets to see Andy Coxton and Adrian Hansel meet and fall in love.
The quick succession of numbers (which will be extremely familiar to regular cabaret attendees) often leaves the public with unfinished matter in their hands, not leaving any time to grieve nor recover from the single pieces. The first act becomes a frenzy of melancholy, heartbreak, and depression and, even though the crowd is being treated to gorgeously delivered songs, the themes aren't fully developed.
The combination of big voices coming from huge West End musicals works, as expected, very well but it might as well be the same as hearing them in a concert setting. Alan's direction includes some mystifying moments (for instance, a sort of baptism involving the gay couple and the alcoholic and a moment when the latter is stripped of his clothes).
His songs are powerful individually but don't have the same impact when put side by side in a continuous stream and a lack of a strong main narrative. They are, however, a treat for the ears. A trio composed by musical director Scott Morgan at the piano accompanied by an exquisite violin and a delicate cello pour the notes down from one of the upper corners of the venue.
The characters fluctuate in a state of non-reality, Andrew Ellis' lighting design punctuates their emotions amplifying them to nearly over-whelming capacity. Blue and white dominate the scene, which consists of a swing and a bench that stand on a huge print of a doily-like leaf under a paper tree hanging from the ceiling (which is dappled with those exposed light bulbs that productions seem to love nowadays).
All in all, the strength of the show is, obviously, its music but it's weak on too many levels. The Distance You Have Come still has a while to go, but it certainly is in the right direction.