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Review: THE SPACE BETWEEN, YouTube We may be living in a time where the arts are struggling financially, with the closure of theatres and the shutdown of many TV and film productions, but creatively, they are thriving. We've seen countless lockdown TV shows and web series filmed largely using mobile phones, laptops and video conferencing apps - and, with The Space Between, we have a new short musical to add to the repertoire.

The piece was written and performed entirely in isolation by David Hunter and Caroline Kay - who have never met in person. Through messaging and voice notes, the two collaborated on all of the songs and the storyline. The piece took less than two months to create, and was filmed in a single take. They teamed up with musical director Nick Barstow (another creative whom neither of the pair have met in person!), as arranger and musical supervisor, Imogen Halsey (on cello) and Joe Davison of Auburn Jam Music LTD, who mixed and mastered the finished piece.

The 13-and-a-bit-minute musical tells the story of an unnamed couple whose relationship is already stretched - and then lockdown hits them. The piece has three 'acts' in the form of songs: a solo for each character and a duet between both. The first song sees Hunter's character offloading to two of his friends in a Zoom call, whilst the second has Kay's character doing likewise in a FaceTime with her mam. In both instances, the secondary characters are uninterested in our protagonists' love lives - it's a fun gag, but a little repetitive.

But the two solos are humorous and offer emotive insights into how each character feels. They're performed well by both leads, especially when they're delivering lots of very fast lines with barely room for breath as their characters spill out everything they are feeling.

However, it's the third piece, a duet between the two over WhatsApp, that is the real standout - it's not only the most interesting musically, it's a really good demonstration of the communication problems the couple are experiencing. Both urge the other to 'listen' whilst singing over each other at cross-purposes, but as the song develops, it becomes less dissonant and they become more in tune.

The use of the video conferencing tools works well and the sound doesn't suffer in quality for being recorded over these platforms. I was less keen on a section inserted between the solo pieces and the duet where we see a text message conversation between the two, which seems to mostly be there to establish their domestic arrangements (she has chosen to stay at her brother's, which is a good way to get over the hurdle of the two performers being in separate spaces).

I found the text dialogue escalated the tone of the relationship from uncomfortable to downright hostile in a way that jars a little with what was established in the songs. I did, however, like the way it illustrated the male character's thwarted attempts to share his feelings by continually typing and deleting messages.

This is an enjoyable watch, and an impressive achievement given the challenges of working remotely with someone you have never met in person. The songs are good - especially the duet - and performed really well. I would have liked a little more insight into the characters and the history of their relationship, but I appreciate there is only so much that a three-song musical delivered via video call can achieve! It demonstrates the talent of both performers and the versatility of musical theatre, even within the constraints of lockdown, and is well worth a few minutes of your time - take a quick tea break and enjoy it.

Whilst it is free to watch the show on YouTube, it has been created to raise funds for the Theatre Artists Fund, the emergency fund for theatre workers in need of urgent support due to the coronavirus pandemic set up last month by theatre and film director Sam Mendes. Any audience members who can afford to make a donation to the Theatre Artists Fund are encouraged to do so.

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From This Author - Ruth Deller

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