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Review: Been So Long

Posted on 06 July 2009 Written by

Showing at the Young Vic Theatre

Showing at the Young Vic Theatre

Raunchy, Oozing in sexual appeal, and some bloody good singing, this is the Young Vic’s current production of Been So Long.

It would be true to say that I had no expectations for this show, no idea in fact about what the show was about, let alone the style and content.

My thoughts are quite simple when you strip them back to the basics. This musical has the ability to entertain the audience tremendously. I’m not one for laughing loudly in public, especially not spontaneously, but it’s hard not to with Che Walkers words/lyrics and direction. Walker has managed to combine both an urban language with a poetic form, to create a dialogue packed with witty ‘street talk’ and outstanding descriptions of crude sexual fantasy.

Maybe I should have guessed from the title that possibly this was about sex, love and everything in between. There were moments where some of the text seemed a little too pushed in a crude manner, yet this only made it more entertaining. Especially with lines like, “I only have to look at a woman and she gives birth to my baby” (or something close to this). Walker if anything has a magical sense of language, especially in the context of this night club setting.

The acting is questionable – only in comparision to the performers outstanding singing. I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to cope with the dialogue until the singing begun.

These have to be, some of the most talented singers I have ever encountered in a musical of this small scale. The leading small cast together with 3 backing singers brought hairs to stand up on my neck multiple times during this performance, through their singing ability alone.

Harry Hepple playing the rude boy of Gil stole the show for me, mainly because I did not expect such an angelic voice to come from such a ‘thug-like-character’. A real treat to hear him sing, desperately seeking a loss girl from some 6 years previous. Walker managing to mix both a tragic and comedic tale through beautiful singing of Hepple.

Now whilst I enjoyed this production, it has to be said that the story is simple to say the least. It couldn’t hold on its own, and if it was not the glorious singing I would not have rated this production highly at all. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy myself and would recommend to see it, but it has it’s flaws.

The story seems to be a bit washed-out, as if it had to be pushed to one side to allow for more musical numbers. Whilst this made for a more entertaining experience the whole piece lacks depth due to it’s one dimensional story. Alas, you can’t have it all it would appear.

My last comment is that there needs to be more musicals like this, more musicals with an empathsis on the urban, black directed cast. It was just a shame that the majority of the audience were made up of white theatre goers, but perhaps it was just the performance I was at. Been So Long certainly deserves a wider, diverse audience.

Been So Long is running at the Young Vic until 15th July 2009 – Booking via their website: Young Vic Website

Jake Orr

Jake Orr

Jake is the Artistic Director and Founder of A Younger Theatre. He is a freelance writer and blogger, a theatre marketer and a digital producer. He is also Co-Curator of Dialogue.

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