After Dogfight took London by storm earlier this year, it was no surprise how excited I was to see Pasek and Paul’s musical baby Edges. As a company, Peak Productions aims to broadcast some of the hidden talent in London, of which we know there is a lot, and there couldn’t have been a better show for it than this.
It’s rare that I’m sold from the first note of a show. With light bulbs burning brightly, bark chippings and grass making the park setting prominent, there is little to distract from, and only something to enhance, the endless amounts of talent we are about to witness. Following the ideas of four individuals, the park setting makes a narrative of the often disjointed song cycle musicals I have witnessed. This setting invokes the feeling of people-watching and, as an avid people-watcher, it makes for an interesting look and a reason for this musical to be there.
Together the cast of four leads glide effortlessly through the challenging vocals and even add some impressive embellishments to the songs. Each harmony is cut perfectly, doing more than justice to Pasek and Paul’s work. The musical itself works because of the honesty, relevance and connection that we can all have with the day-to-day trials that each of the characters go through. The whole show relies on a phenomenal cast to grab the audience’s attention as well as these four do. I guess the cracking three-man band helps too!
While together the four offer some of the best harmonies I’ve heard in a while, not to mention the naturally stunning opening and closing numbers, each of these performers do have their own ‘Edge’. For Claudia Kariuki it is her endless belting, especially during ‘I’ve Gotta Run’, which ensured rapturous applause from an overwhelmed audience. For Lauren Allan the purity of her voice and versatility stand out, singing ‘Man of My Dreams’. It is in ‘I Once Knew’ that Robert Woodward displays an overwhelming sense of emotional truth where I was wholly absorbed in his performance and left feeling hopelessly empathetic for this character. Then, in opposition, Chris Barton tears down the house with his unbelievable ability to riff. Not only this, but he is the most comedic and engaging of the four, and that’s even without mentioning his psychopathic tendencies.
Since the musical is predominantly known amongst people outside the theatre world because of the famous ‘Facebook Song’ (also known as ‘Be My Friend’), I was amazed that this number wasn’t a let down. It is characterful, comedic and gives inklings of the horrifyingly accurate truths of our own Facebook profiles. The direction especially stands out here, with synchronised movements making even more out of the lyrics and a perfectly timed smile for one of the characters.
It is the relevance of this show to each individual, the breathtaking talent, the quality of the production and the direction that all make this show so wonderful. The idea behind the company to show off talent that is not always seen also appeals to me, with one of the cast just being out of drama school and another returning to the stage. I urge everyone to see this production and with a gala night on 3 October, you have no excuse. I may have missed one of my favourite songs ‘Along the Way’ just a tad, but that’s about the only hole I can pick in this show. Peak Productions leaps into the list of companies I look out for and I hope it’s not long before I am greeted to another phenomenal production. Producer Michael Auger, director Jordan Murphy and musical director Tom Lees – I thank you.
Edges is playing at the London Theatre Workshop until 1 October, with a gala night at St Paul’s Actors’ Church on 3 October. For more information and tickets, see the Peak Productions website.