With an intimate dim-lit atmosphere in the cabaret-like St James Studio, writer and performer Benjamin Scheuer opens up his heart to the lucky handful of audience members, expressing a very honest love for a life lived through music through its ups and downs, lightness and momentary eclipse.
Using only a few microphones and six different guitars Scheuer takes us through his moving life story through simple but brilliant song. He not only has a very honest and deeply rooted talent for writing but also a sense of storyline and beat through the music itself and an emotional use of every different guitar. It’s a story of a boy and his troubled relationship with his father and how difficult things in our lives, when unspoken, can be a burdensome baggage for a lifetime. When things are left unsaid they haunt us, and by using the different guitars and their different sound as a progressive means of storytelling a boy grows up from trying to imitate the sound of his dad, through rebelling through noise and rock to finding his own voice, his own guitar, as all of us have to in life. It’s boy meets girl, boy falls in love and gets his heart broken, and then boy meets cancer and its haunting grip on life. Brilliantly using opposites and their effects, great moments of darkness and painful emotion are interrupted by fractions of humour and light, and so Scheuer gently plays with the heart and its capacity and allows us to share with him the delicate moments of truth coming from a very human and honest approach to life and all it throws our way.
As a performer he masters a charming rapport with his audience that’s refreshingly down to earth and sometimes so subtle that a small room in near darkness suddenly feels like a cosy bedroom, huddled up around one man and his story. Though it’s a tale of battling the memory of his dad, the turbulence of love and a horrific fight with cancer, The Lion is incredibly uplifting and gives us hope through its heart-felt music. St James Studio is a perfect setting with a table-seating, small in scale, supporting the intimacy, and the night feels like a warm hug for all the struggles and all the joy life keeps throwing our way.
The Lion is simple musical storytelling that touches the heart, and with Benjamin Scheuer’s warm presence, honest and humorous interaction with his audience, it’s impossible not to fall in love with life for an hour.
The Lion is playing at St James Theatre until 7 September. For more information and tickets, see the St James Theatre website. Photo by Bronwen Sharp.