‘THE past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.’
Those famous opening words usher in this world premiere that is certainly trying to do something new as acclaimed children’s writer David Wood and composer Richard Taylor create what they call a 'musical drama'.
"What makes this worth seeing is the unusual and crafty way the music and lyrics drive the story in way that is different from the traditional musical."
Wood’s adaptation of the LP Hartley classic is as succinct as you might expect from such a gifted writer, but frankly the core material is a bit too one-dimensional for an adult work.
Basically it is sub-DH Lawrence, where the frustrated young lady of the house falls in love with a lower class farmer and it all ends in tragedy. The Go-Between in question is a sweet middle class boy called Leo, who has a crush on the doomed lover Marion and loses his innocence in a maelstrom of class politics and lies.
The idea that this period piece of upper class manners can teach us anything about class in Britain today doesn’t really fly, but it does engage as a melodrama about star-crossed lovers and their troubled ‘postboy’
What makes this worth seeing is the unusual and crafty way the music and lyrics drive the story in way that is different from the traditional musical, aided by a strong ensemble who do give it their all. The other unusual dramatic device is that the older Leo, haunted by his naivety as a boy, shares the stage with the younger version, and it works brilliantly.
As the older Leo, James Staddon inhabits the bitter old man mourning the wasted years of recrimination. The moment when the other characters gather round Leo, in full voice, imploring him in song to finally face up to his past is genuinely moving.
But the real stars of the show are the two local lads Wood and Taylor found to play Leo and his dippy posh mate Marcus. In the first act William Mercer, as Marcus. sings some difficult numbers beautifully and carries the show on his young shoulders.
His equal is Edward Cooke, who effortlessly masters the demanding role of young Leo as his life - and those around him - disintegrates with one stupid act. Two young stars are born and I marvelled at their assurance in two very tough roles.
The Go-Between is not cutting edge theatre, but if want a brave attempt to do something different, with a cast with no obvious weaknesses, then this intelligent and well staged show will do it for you.
Performance details are:
Evening performances until Saturday 1 October (Mon – Sat, 7.30pm)
Matinees: Sat 17, 24 (2.00pm) Thurs 22, 29 Sep (1.30pm)
BSL Interpreted Performance: Thu 29 Sep (7.30pm) Audio Described Performance: Tue 27 Sep (7.30pm)
Captioned Performance: Sat 24 Sep (2.00pm)
Tickets: £17- 27 (Concs available)
A limited number of free tickets are available to under 26s Monday – Thursday. Friday 9 Sept – Sat 1 Oct.
Tickets are available from the Box Office on 0113 213 7700.