“It took the pain to bind us together, closer than ever.”
Life. It’s something that we all muddle and struggle through. There are ups, downs, and many roads in between that take us in new directions. Closer Than Ever takes us through these journeys but not in the way you would expect. Just like life then, really.
The Pheasantry is the host of this marvellous piece, and it’s an apt venue to do so. The colloquial cabaret atmosphere is married with a small stage and a lovely piano, a bass and four mic stands, punctuated by quite a grand staircase to the side of the stage. It gives the impression of being quite suave, and that you should be expecting quite a treat to go with your meal.
And treat us they did. To accomplish a show such as Closer Than Ever, one must not only master such an understanding of musicality, but also be able to impart this onto a cast that can also perform and gel well with each other and the audience. Nick Barstow does an absolutely superb job with this. I’ve been quite a fan of the music from Closer Than Ever for a long time now, simply due to the advanced complexity in the musicality and intricate structures of the patterns within these notes, paired with what can only be described as incredible lyricism. Richard Maltby Jr and David Shire have made a perfect pair, and in my eyes, have created a masterpiece which I can listen to for days on end.
The challenge then comes with justifying this piece, and supporting its true potential. Barstow’s clear determination to be strict with musical progression shines through, as I couldn’t find a single fault (I can’t help but listen out for them!). This allowed us as the audience to indulge in the gloriously oozing harmonies created by the stellar cast. Every single performer engaged with us on a perfect level and seemed more than capable to pull of such a complicated and intriguing show. Each of the performers showed us through various stages of life, and reflecting on this in ways that us as the audience may have not even considered before. The honesty in these performances gave the songs their worth, and it was truly stunning.
What I loved was the way that this show also doesn’t sugar coat everything. There are definite highs and lows, but what’s important is realising that we are all in a similar battle to make each other and ourselves happy. And that is indeed what brings us closer together. This is a definite watch for anyone who is looking for something different, yet stunning in its own personalised way.
Closer Than Ever is playing at the Pheasantry until 27 April For more information and tickets, see Neil Leckersley productions website.
Photo: Richard Parnwell