Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Review: Bare at the Union Theatre

Union Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 30th April 2013

The Union is the perfect theatre for the European premiere of Bare. The ensemble's eerie harmonies can be heard from all around, the smoke comes right up into your face and the cast perform at arms length providing an extremely intimate experience. Bare is a musical which is most appealing to the younger generation or for those who remain young at heart. Some may be able to identify or relate to the group of teenagers who are seen wrestling with issues of identity, sexuality, and religion while at a co-ed Catholic boarding school.

The central storyline follows the rocky, secret relationship between Jason and Peter. Michael Vinsen's portrayal of Peter is solid and he sings the score effortlessly. Perhaps I would have like to have seen Michael take a few more risks with the character to make his performance bigger and bolder. Ross William Wild's portrayal of Jason is utterly captivating. His voice isn't as powerful but his tone is so smooth and calming. What I admire most is the detail in his performance, you can see every emotion just by looking into his eyes which is so vital when performing in such a small theatre where there is nowhere to hide.

Hannah Levane steals the show as Sister Chantelle. The role isn't huge but Hannah gives a memorable performance and shows off her powerhouse vocals during her solo numbers. She also provides many comical moments. Too often dance routines can look squashed in smaller fringe theatres but Racky Plews's careful choreography is extremely effective and perfect for the space, not once does it look squashed and it is executed perfectly by the cast.

Most of Bare's faults lie with the show itself and not this production. Damon Intrabartolo's score is mostly strong, after the show ended I immediately  wanted to download a cast recording so I could hear the music again. Unfortunately a few songs are a little repetitive and could be cut which would also help to pick up the pace of the piece. I love that Bare is mostly sung through as sometimes music can allow actors to be far more expressive. This was mostly the case with Bare although it led to a few moments of 'over-acting'.

Bare is a dark, gloomy and mystifying piece of theatre and David Shields' design also makes the production feel very atmospheric. I can see the show making quite an impression on some people as if you can relate to it Bare becomes quite a thought provoking piece of theatre. Bare is all about stripping back layers and focusing on raw emotion and honesty, it is not perfect but is most definitely worth seeing.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Bare runs at the Union Theatre until 25th May 2013. 

Photo Credit: Claire Bilyard

1 comment:

  1. wow, this show is amazing. never seen anything like it. very gothic.