Closer Than Ever at Jermyn Street Theatre
Closer Than Ever isn’t musical theatre in the usual sense – it has just four actors, two musicians and a bare stage highlighted only by five stark white doors. It’s a musical but it doesn’t have any spoken words. Forget the pesky contrivances of dialogue and narrative, this musical revue dispenses with those in favour of a series of vignettes that come one after another in a procession of song. Without the glitz and the glamour of a stage musical, Closer Than Ever can come across as rather quaint, but its sardonic, tongue-in-cheek style means there is a lot more to this than you would think.
Roughly speaking, the production is about adulthood: the sex, the drama, the impending march of time. The lyrics by Richard Maltby are the real highlight here. Many of the songs have a sanguine overcoat, sticky and sweet, but with a bitter sarcastic streak bubbling underneath that’s often hilarious. Because of the lack of instrumental variety (the always strong backing band consists of a piano and a double bass) songs do tend to bleed into one another, but the lyrics remain sharp and offer enough to keep things rolling along.
Graham Bickley is especially impressive throughout, but the show works best with all four cast onstage. Unfortunately some of the lyrics are lost amid the backing music, but this is perhaps unavoidable in such a small space.
Although it drags a little in the second act, Closer Than Ever is fun, quick-witted stuff. It’s a shame not to see these songs performed by a larger band, but that’s probably not the point. And it’s always fun to watch adults bitching about being adults while singing show tunes.
Closer Than Ever is at Jermyn Street Theatre until 7th June 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.