wed 19/09/2018

See Rock City & Other Destinations, Union Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

See Rock City & Other Destinations, Union Theatre

See Rock City & Other Destinations, Union Theatre

The emotional voyage takes literal form in this heartfelt if generic new musical

Lonely planet: disparate travellers seek connection at America's landmarksClaire Bilyard

Shared yearning for a place to belong is not a revelatory concept, nor is it given new dimension in this gently saccharine piece, yet although the whistle-stop tour only covers familiar landmarks, the journey is a convivial one. Adam Mathias and Brad Alexander’s pop/rock-cum-contemporary Broadway show meanders through six vignettes – with a loose thematic thread – that take place at American tourist attractions; some are all too brief, others outstay their welcome. Graham Hubbard’s economical staging is mostly effective, bar some cumbersome box moving and the strange decision to keep one supporting character on stage throughout, intruding on intimate moments like a mildly psychotic stalker.

The travellers of See Rock City & Other Destinations are mainly concerned with the symbolism of their destinations, as are the creators: you won’t escape the visit of a jittery bride (Sinéad Wall) to Niagara Falls without a heavy-handed leap of faith/literal Lover’s Leap parallel. Similarly, when sheltered South Carolina waitress Dodi (Nancy Sullivan, below with Alex Lodge) and angst-ridden drifter Jess (Lodge) gaze at an endless horizon, one is entranced by the possibilities, the other gripes about endless empty roads. This juxtaposition might engage more if reedy-voiced Lodge weren’t flummoxed by his character’s admittedly sketchy existential crisis; Sullivan fares better with her kooky optimist. Their strongest moment is duet “I Can Tell”, in which they attempt to suss out one another using limited clues – the number’s sly spikiness balances out some of the studied sweetness.

See Rock City & Other DestinationsThat acerbic wit is sorely lacking in a syrupy romance at the Alamo, where Lauren’s (Georgia Permutt) satisfaction with single life is immediately ditched when a goofy charmer (Kris Marc-Joseph) pitches up, to the delight of her wheelchair-bound grandfather (Neil Stewart).

Stewart’s transition from frustrated silence to articulate song is impressive, but not enough to justify the interminable length of the segment. The clichéd runaway bride fable also grates, and the strident cynicism of Ricky Johnston’s tour guide remains unexplained.

See Rock City & Other DestinationsIn contrast, the tale of three squabbling sisters scattering their father’s ashes in Glacier Bay evokes lifelong dynamics in crisp fashion, while also parodying “Three Little Maids From School Are We” via an a cappella folk song with lilting harmonies. Rebecca Withers’ peacemaker is a solid centre, Laurel Dougal an imposing diva, and Kathleen Larken's hippy amusingly infuriating, although the latter two occasionally overplay their types. Similarly effective is a pair of prep-school boys (Barney Glover and Richard Dawes) visiting Coney Island, where macho banter leads to a realisation. Unfortunately, the audience reaches that realisation some minutes earlier due to flagrant foreshadowing.

Most stimulating is a runner about UFO-obsessed Evan (Joshua LeClair, pictured above), who’s swapped job and relationship security for a minute chance of revelation at Roswell. Offbeat “We Are Not Alone”, strongly delivered by LeClair, has a wistful quality and marginally subtler subtext that suggest real potential for this song cycle. If its music developed rather than repeated sentiment, it might be worthy of a return trip. 

If the music developed rather than repeated sentiment, it might be worthy of a return trip

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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