Part A

Mon 20th – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Imogen O'Sullivan

at 00:48 on 24th Aug 2012

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The opening number of Part A is a perfect example of this show at its best; incredibly vibrant, well co-ordinated, imaginatively choreographed, perfectly harmonised and with more than a touch of lyrical genius. With the curtains drawn back, it makes a nice change to have the show’s musicians visible, allowing the audience to personally credit them for their exceptional work; in particular, the slammin’ bass solo. The actors also make the best use of the space available, cramming in impressively flamboyant choreography.

Johnny Landels has a wonderfully clear tone and is talented and hugely co-operative as an ensemble performer. His singing displays sensitive harmonisation and towards the end he enjoys a stint as a genuine and moving soloist. Jay Worley utilises evocative and subtle facial changes, his acting consistent and committed whether singing or not; universally strong across the board. Jack Graham’s character is a tender and endearing portrayal, but there are occasional drops in volume which deprive the audience of some beautifully penned lyrics. In her portrayal of the familiar phenomena of drunk messaging, Elle Daniel is both entertaining and perceptive, and together with Holly Graham and Sophie Giles, they form a well-balanced female ensemble for a genuinely hilarious and melodic rendition of first world problems - Graham’s vocal riffs are consummate in their precision.

The cast are a cohesive ensemble as a whole; their dance montage is innovative and wonderfully engaging and the visual creation of a toilet, complete with Daniel’s hair as a flush, is characteristic of their imaginative staging. This piece is lyrically strongest when exploring real and universal difficulties of social interaction at a party and these amusingly recreated shared experiences create a real bond between audience and performers. The cast successfully integrate modern subtleties of slang and pop-culture references without it being cloying or ham-fisted, and with this, manage to be more observational and comedic than most observational comedy.

As an endeavour, this piece is incredibly brave. A small room packed with people allows them to hear every tiny imperfection in your vocal performance, and there are occasionally some problems with volume levels with the talented band sometimes drowning out the quieter solo moments. Also, the singers are not always perfectly pitched, but they can hardly be expected to be, and any minor problems are clearly overridden by sharp, inspired lyrics and the palpable animation of the performers. ‘Part A’ repeatedly quotes Jean Paul Sartre’s ‘hell is other people’, but in this case, ‘other people’ have created something akin to musical theatre heaven. One of the most original and amusing pieces I have seen at the Fringe, I would love to see them come back again; polished, perfected, with microphones, and in a bigger venue.

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Lise McNally

at 01:45 on 24th Aug 2012

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Jack Williams and Freya Smith’s hysterical new musical ‘Part-A’ could be prescribed as an antidepressant. With its foot tapping tunes and wonderfully inventive lyrics, the production is a total delight right from the start. A showcase of 9 inventive songs detailing the highs, the lows, and the crippling embarrassments that is the modern student house party, if you receive an invite to this particular bash you should RSVP with a resounding “YES!”.

The performance seemingly lacks a plot imperative, as the 9 songs give way to each other with no intervening dialogue. However, Williams and Smith have crammed an impressive amount of characterisation into their lyrics, an effort which is upheld by the 6-strong cast. Drunk dialler Elle Daniel is a real treat, with a marvellous vocal range and a wicked sense of comic timing. Jay Worley is also difficult to take your eyes off, being equally entertaining as a background actor and solo artist. But all of them could have merited a paragraph of praise: each a brilliant comic actor in their own right, their voices work seamlessly together during the group numbers, achieving at one point a beautifully pitched 6-part harmony. As a cast they are a potent mix of singing sensations and adorable awkwardness.

But it is the songs themselves which are the real life and soul of this party. The musicians are marvellous, totally in time and bopping along with everybody else. The lyrics are witty, relevant and sometimes beautifully poetic: as each performer takes a turn at a solo song, the stories beginning to link together into a surprisingly moving narrative as the evening progresses. There is also a rather slick bit of meta-lyricism, a toilet song about toilets.

But artistic merit aside, this show is simply very very funny. Quipping retorts, dazzling word-play and wicked exophoric references ensure that the humour has a universal appeal. I really would recommend ‘Part A’; between them, this talented young cast and crew have thrown a real rave up.

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