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Project Interlude (Review)

Rating:

With the self-imposed challenge of creating, developing, perfecting and opening a 30-minute show in just 7 days – alongside work commitments and a global pandemic – City Theatre prove in Project Interlude that they don’t like making things easy for themselves.

Which is why it elates me to say that their final product, directed by Jo Elizabeth Finnis and available on demand, is a strong success on many theatrical fronts.

Skye Beker in Collisions, as part of Project Interlude.

This final product, a musical titled Collisions, takes audiences in to the lives of four unnamed characters. All are at different stages of life; Aarin Starkey plays a character so skint they spend most of their stage time searching for silver coins, Andrew Jackson is a man beleaguered by business life, Brooklyn Newey regrets pursuing the natural paths to success in modern society, and Skye Beker laments leaving such paths.

Through one traumatic incident, their lives ‘collide’.

Collisions, as part of Project Interlude.

Project Interlude‘s most obvious strength is its cast. Each go a significant way towards imbuing their characters with a real personality, allowing audiences to identify with at least one distinctive trait they see. Though the quartet are rarely seen interacting with one another, each individual holds an interesting enough stage presence on their own to keep the show moving steadily (even if their own movement really should have been less static).

Of note in this regard are Jackson, whose comedic performance easily drew the biggest laughs of the show, and Newey, who was able to construct the most nuanced character of the cast. Both must also be commended for their musicality, applying their strengths outstandingly to Emma Young’s sound lyrics and Renae Goodman’s noteworthy composition.

Andrew Jackson in Collisions, as part ofProject Interlude.

Unfortunately, Beker and Starkey do not draw similar praise due to circumstances out of their control. Writer Sarah Campbell gives these performers too much and too little to do respectively in the show’s 30-minute run time, rendering an audience unable to understand their characters enough to sustain an interest in them.

Subsequently, despite her best efforts, Beker’s prominent role in the narrative – and indeed the narrative itself – suffers from Campbell’s desire to establish a story for every character. With this task taking up much of the show, the narrative’s climax (and Beker’s/Starkey’s characters) came off a little awkward, suggesting a need to either lengthen the run time or detail each character’s backstory more clearly.

Which, come to think of it, some more expressive movement and less of a stop-start performance rhythm would have gone a ways to assist.

Aarin Starkey in Collisions, as part of Project Interlude.

Ultimately, Project Interlude was no doubt an ambitious challenge. Yet, there is also no doubt that City Theatre rose to the occasion. The script needed some work and the movement was limited, but the music and the cast gave an audience enough to appreciate to negate these shortcomings. For a show that went from scheme to stage in 7 days, there really is much to like.

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