Hull – 1997, 2007, 2017. Middle Child’s part-gig part-show All We Ever Wanted Was Everything hop-skip-and-jumps across time, telling the story of Leah, Chris, and their parents, examining economical entitlement, legacies of generations, and the miserable reality of failing to achieve your dreams.
What makes this story – which, for the most part, focuses on average and relatable characters – exceptional, is the impending approach of an asteroid set to destroy earth. It’s a brilliant piece of writing by Luke Barnes, blowing open the scale of the whole play and making the characters’ apparent failures all the more heartbreaking.
The cast are excellent, all showcasing their impressive musical and theatrical talent. In particular, Marc Graham, who recently won one of The Stage’s Edinburgh Awards for his performance, makes a delightful compere, adlibbing and riffing as he goes. He knows exactly how to judge his audience, holding them in the palm of his hand as he catapults us through the story. The cast jump their way through thirty years, perfectly capturing the mood of each decade while maintaining their sharp characterisations.
If anything, the Roundabout is too nice a space for this show. Having seen the show before at Latitude, a festival vibe far more suited to the energy of the piece, I found that the setting of the Roundabout too well-behaved for All We Ever Wanted. It’s a piece that was first performed in a club, after all. But the company adapt to this, embracing the polite, raked, in-the-round seating and take advantage of the ability to sit amongst the audience. It showcases Middle Child as versatile yet true to their aesthetic, utterly entrenched in the liveness of theatre.
It’s a brilliant show. It has so much heart, so much passion, and bucket-loads of gusto, its final message resonant and memorable. All We Ever Wanted is just stunning: down-to-earth and yet brilliantly ambitious, Middle Child encapsulate the zeitgeist of three different decades while maintaining a coherent commentary on the present day. It’s a winning combination of performance and writing, doing Hull proud with every single show.