Hostage Song at the Finborough Theatre
While this new musical has a very current issue as its overall theme, its plot is unremarkable. A fairly short running time of an hour and 15 minutes with no interval, Clay McLeod Chapman and Kyle Jarrow attempt to cover a lot of possible facets and emotions surrounding a hostage ordeal in a small time frame.
Incorporating the complex and multi-purpose nature of the relationship forged between two strangers in a common nightmare and the simultaneous struggle of their families at home, the script doesn’t quite give the characters enough time to warm to each other, or the audience. Jennifer (Verity Marshall) and Jim (Michael Matus) are understandably supportive of one another, but the development of their trust and familiarity is not played out in the writing. Only snippets of their first encounter, guessing games and the sharing of imaginary dreams are presented and because of the non-chronological structure, their relationship is a little confusing and artificial. Although tackling sensitive and potentially worthwhile themes, the plot on the whole felt a bit predictable and clumsy.
The stock American accents required for the roles in this piece were generally not well held. With the exception of Pierce Reid and particularly Maria Teresa Creasey who seemed very comfortable with a Southern twang, the lack of consistency in vowels slightly diminished the believability of the personalities.
Contrary to the intimate performance space at the Finborough Theatre and the minimal set (dusty sheet flooring and a filing cabinet pushed on its side in the centre) the music was loud and unapologetic. With competent singing across the company, the music was consistent in style and executed well by the band. With no underscore running alongside dialogue, the musical interludes were prominent, which gave more of a gig-like feel. Serving as they typically do in musicals, the numbers were melodic monologues, the lyrics were simple and perhaps at times clichéd with some metaphors lacking a little in profundity.
The costumes designed by Libby Todd and make-up of the protagonist hostages was very authentic and the performers did well to navigate almost the entire performance blindfolded with hands bound. Lighting by Nic Farman was minimal in range of effects but not in power and contributed strongly to the drama of Hostage Song.
Hostage Song is at the Finborough Theatre until 8th July 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.