Twentyfour Seven at the Embassy Theatre
Although rich in enthusiasm and creativity, the DreamArts musical adaptation of the 1997 film Twentyfour Seven at Central School of Speech and Drama’s Embassy Theatre falls short of a knockout in music and lyrical development, as well as key performances.
Allan Darcy (Martin Johnston) wants to get kids fighting. In an urban community where gang violence and substance abuse are a growing trend, Darcy is looking to get teens off the street and into the ring, focusing their aggression on the discipline and dedication necessary to develop skills in boxing. When he opens the Phoenix Boxing Club, the troubled local youth get the stability and confidence they need to turn their lives around in an encouraging environment they’ve never experienced before.
While Wayne Roberts’ musical score is catchy and somewhat entertaining, the overall tone of several songs seems less than fitting to the content. The drama centres on Darcy’s relationship with these young adults and the hardships they have to overcome, but the major recurring number is an upbeat jingle that emphasises how “Darcy has a dream”, shifting the attention away from the kids irrelevantly.
Furthermore, when two rivalry groups meet in the street, their antagonism in song hardly comes across as menacing or dangerous when the lads sing “Oy, oy, why you spittin’ in your chips for, spittin in your chips for, spittin’ in your chips for?” The creative effort is appreciated but the piece as a whole just doesn’t translate well into a musical.
Johnston is passionate and animated as Darcy but his depiction of the character comes off as rather unrealistic. It’s difficult to accept that he simply wants to help these kids out of the kindness of his heart and you question the authenticity of the situation. Some of the cast spark curiosity in their individual performances, but together, their chemistry is slightly off and you aren’t exactly invested in the relationships or characters.
However, a noteworthy enactment by supporting actress Clair Morrissey is successful in drawing you deeper into the story. Her portrayal of frail and battered wife Carol is honest and convincing, encouraging empathy with her dilemma. Her few musical numbers are sung tellingly and reveal a deep sadness in a soft, motherly tone.
Despite its shortcomings, the rhythm of the accompanying band and the dynamic choreography make for easy listening set to interesting visuals.
Twentyfour Seven is at the Embassy Theatre (Central School of Speech and Drama) until 6th September 2013. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.