When Harry met Barry is a new musical play
That focuses around two characters who are gay.
The cast of five sing out loud each line
which is almost always finished with a rhyme
… and I have to say having practically every line in each song rhyming becomes a tad predictable – I found myself finishing each line in my head before them. When Harry met Barry is a musical penned by Paul Emelion Daly, returning to London for a second “updated” run. The story focuses on the lives of two guys who, at a young tender age, crept upstairs at a party at Skinny Sue’s and ended up kissing. Barry’s confusion sees him hide his sexuality leading to dates with many a girl, becoming a lawyer, wanting to keep the family name with kids. Then fate brings him to the back of taxi, bumping into Harry some ten years later. Both in new relationships, Harry with Spencer, Barry with Alice, we are presented with a hurried reconciliation that suggests that if you wait a good 10 years for an awkward fumble, eventually you will end up together find the love of your life.
The representation of the gay community, despite this update, seems very dated, and is presented quite stereotypically: PVC costumes, sex and a song entitled ‘Welcome to Fairyland’ all make you wonder if there is any depth to the tale.
The truth is the depth, despite a weak storyline, comes from a very talented cast. Many recent graduates from drama schools take to the stage in a very strong ensemble. Aiden Crawford performs the role of Spencer, an aspiring, larger-than-life fashion designer, with so much truth and sincerity; a camp, loud character could easily have been over played but he is performed by Crawford as a real person. Crawford works particularly well alongside Harry (Wesley Dow). Dow’s solo in such an intimate venue is beautiful and he shows real emotion in his voice. Madeline McMahon as Betty Blue, a sort of story-telling fairy matchmaker, keeps the story together and displays good use of wit and comic timing, and a whole range of voices. Holly Julier as Alice is brilliant, her vocals and stage presence make for an incredibly engaging performance. The point where Barry (Craig Rhys Barlow) confesses his love for another man is presented wonderfully and you really feel for her character.
All in all, the production is a bit of fun, there is a lot of potential for the show and credit must be given to the talent on stage who perform with such commitment and truth. Lee Freeman dutifully reins in the cast across an epic repetitive score, but I would love to hear this soundtrack with a larger orchestration than just the keyboard.
Go for the talent, I am sure we will see more of them.