Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 11 September 2014
High Fidelity, Sept 11, 2014 **
Music by Tom Kitt; lyrics
by Amanda Green; book by David Lyndsay-Abaire; Based on the best-selling novel
by Nick Hornby; presented by Pursued By Bear At Chapel
off Chapel, from Sept 11 to Sept 21, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Fri Sept 12 and later in print. KH
Scott Mackenzie, Russll Leonard, Liam
the popular book and movie about a bloke who runs a record store stuffed with
obscure vinyl discs, a third life as a musical seems an obvious step for High
Fidelity –The Musical emphasises the cynicism of Nick Hornby’s original, 1995
novel rather than the perkily charming nostalgia of the John Cusack movie from
David Ward’s production lacks finesse with its messy direction, uneven acting
and vocals, awkward design and confined stage space that pushes the actors to
the very front of the stage, restricting the sight lines to zero in some
greatest asset is the tight, 10-piece band under musical director, Frankie
Ross, but Ward unwisely secretes the band behind a curtain in the back corner
of the cluttered stage.
30-something Rob Gordon (Russell Leonard) is a musical elitist so blinkered and
obsessed with classic and obscure music that
he runs a Brooklyn record shop, Championship Vinyl, that has no paying customers.
it has plenty of weirdoes such as his two co-workers, painfully shy Dick (Liam
O’Byrne) and loudmouth Barry (Scott Mackenzie), and other denizens of the store
including TMPMITW, “The most pathetic man in the world” (Tom Russell).
girlfriend, Laura (Simone Van Vugt), dumps Rob unceremoniously, he pursues her
relentlessly and idiotically or spends his time cataloguing his records, making
mixed tapes – yes, cassettes – or devising “Top Five Lists” of everything from favourite
discs to worst break-ups.
Tom Kitt’s music is intentionally derivative, reflecting Rob’s
musical obsessions by channeling the eclectic styles of Springsteen, Aretha,
Talking Heads, Beastie Boys and more.
Amanda Green’s lyrics are often acerbic and funny with clever lines
such as, “I slept with someone who handled Kurt Cobain’s intervention”, and, “If
you hate mass market, bring your ass and park it.”
David Lyndsay-Abaire’s book is structured around Rob’s running,
internal narration as he struggles to evolve into a functioning adult from a self-absorbed
man-child whose jaded, critical view of the world stops him from participating
or growing up.
musical could probably be entertaining identification theatre but it crashes
and burns in large part because Russell, playing the crucial role of Rob, sings
painfully off-key in almost every song. This is unforgivable in a musical.
are a few cheering performances including Van Vugt singing Laura, O’Byrne’s
duet, It’s No Problem, with his dorky girlfriend (Alexia Brinsley), and a cameo
high point of the show is the finale, Turn The World Off, sung by Mackenzie as
Barry with his bonkers band that is “experimental with pop sensibilities”.
Fi is sadly Low Fi in this poorly pitched production that needs some radical
re-staging and recasting.