Seventeen cast members from Norfolk Youth Music Theatre show real panache in their adaptation of Steven Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. In a tale filled with droll and sarcastic dialogue and chaotic character relationships, these young performers portray awkwardness, humour, and passion with conviction and power. They also grasp Sondheim’s tricky musical score with a pleasing level of assurance and maturity considering they are all aged nineteen and under.
If you’re unfamiliar with the musical, simply imagine Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and add singing. Sondheim’s script is filled with hilarious and frequently rude one-liners that will at least raise eyebrows if not a laugh. Middle-aged lawyer Fredrik Egerman describes every married man’s daily dilemma, to ravish his wife or take a nap (he chooses, of course, to sleep soundly while she powders her nose). Meanwhile the elderly Madame Armfeldt advises her granddaughter never to marry a Scandinavian, on the proviso that they are all insane. These and numerous other jokes had me and the rest of the audience frequently giggling uncontrollably and considering the intimacy of the venue, I’m amazed the performers managed to keep straight faces.
The production is a little rough around the edges with occasional missed notes, mumbled speeches and clunky scene changes, but considering that it is performed by a youth group, such imperfections are easily overlooked. This company is deserving of high praise and I heartily recommend a trip to see this interpretation of Sondheim’s charming and witty work.
**** 4/5 stars
A Little Night Music is playing at C venues as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 11th August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.