BWW Review: THE DYSFUNCTIONAL GUIDE TO BEING A THIRD WHEEL, Live At Z delBWW Review: THE DYSFUNCTIONAL GUIDE TO BEING A THIRD WHEEL, Live At Z delThis is the first in a series of original musicals that will be brought to Live at Zédel thanks to New., whose aim is to showcase young, emerging talent on the stage. The Dysfunctional Guide To Being A Third Wheel was written by Henry Roadnight and Adam Johnson, and is a musical for the millennial generation.

Pam is lonely, approaching 30, and seems to have nothing to focus her energy on. She's also pining for her friend and colleague Sid. In desperation, she starts a vlog (Sid thought she'd be good at it) and downloads an app called 'Chiri Up'; it's like Siri, but claims to be able to solve all your problems. However, what Pam doesn't know is that it is in fact a scam targeted directly at her - and when Pam's new friend Joanna starts dating Sid, she becomes almost completely dependent on the 'app' for comfort and company.

Parts of this musical have been performed before (most recently at the Other Palace Studio as part of a series of post-show concerts), but this short run is the first time it has been staged and performed in full. Somewhere like Live at Zédel seems like the ideal place to do this; much of the show takes place in Pam's front room, so the intimacy of the space lends itself quite naturally to this, and the restaurant scene is cleverly brought into the audience who are also seated at small tables. Jordan Murphy's direction suits the show perfectly.

New musical writing seems to be at a delicate stage, with adaptations and jukebox musicals dominating, and the songs often are far superior to the book. So it's really refreshing to see a completely original show which seems to have placed equal focus on both aspects. Roadnight and Johnson have created a solid story that is both hilarious and extremely relatable; it has its absurd moments, but that just adds to its quirky charm. The songs are incredibly catchy and packed full of ridiculous rhymes - "Movie Night" and Sid's attempts to set Pam up on a blind date are definite guffaw-inducing highlights.

Co-writer Adam Johnson plays 'Chiri Up', really playing up the physical comedy (he's located at the side of the stage, alongside a noticeboard full of research on Pam) and coming into his own as Chiri starts to take over Pam's life. Ben Kerr and Laura Barnard are Sid and Joanna; every inch the smug couple, they are blissfully unaware of Pam's feelings and happily flaunt their relationship at every opportunity.

Aveen Biddle takes the central role of Pam, and is surely a star in the making. Pam has a bit of a tendency to ramble (especially around Sid), and has a lot of humorous asides; this all seems to come very naturally to Biddle, whose innate comic timing has the audience in stitches. Whilst Pam is a bit of a figure of ridicule, you can't help but feel for her as her situation becomes more desperate. Biddle also has a very powerful voice, and delivers all of Pam's songs with gusto.

Though the title may be a bit of a mouthful, The Dysfunctional Guide To Being A Third Wheel is new writing at its finest - hilarious, engaging, and memorable, it's guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Roadnight and Johnson have a couple of other projects in development (Super Hero and Cane), but I hope they also have an opportunity to give this crowd-pleasing show a slightly longer run. The future of new musical writing is definitely in safe hands.

The Dysfunctional Guide To Being A Third Wheel is at Live at Zédel until 30 October

Picture credit: PJNorthernboy Media

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From This Author Debbie Gilpin

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