Exposure – The Musical at St James Theatre
On paper, the themes of injustice, corruption, temptation and the power of iconography could make an insightful and interesting piece of musical theatre. In practice, however, Mike Dwyer’s 12-year labour of love Exposure – The Musical sadly lurches from cliché to underdeveloped cliché, leaving his musically excellent score and a talented, engaging young cast somewhat adrift in a visually impressive yet altogether confusing sea of poorly-paced and sometimes bizarre creative choices.
Telling the story of talented young photographer Jimmy Tucker who has dedicated his life to living up to his late father’s legacy of groundbreaking imagery, we witness the struggle between temptation and integrity, money and morals, as this self-confessed “break-neck race through the night” delivers a series of increasingly more extraordinary encounters. From troubled girl-next-door, pop starlet Pandora and homeless Irish-beauty Tara to devil-incarnate media mogul Miles Mason (played by ex-Eastenders actor Michael Greco) via a suicide, a coma, and all seven deadly sins, the musical is a veritable whirlwind of metaphors and social commentary.
Visually, the show is impressive. With Timothy Bird’s image and video-projected staging, the blank scenery shifts and mutates masterfully, taking the form of everything from a recording studio to a rooftop London skyline. Combining this with arresting displays of striking, iconic imagery (provided by partner Getty Images) serving as backdrop to Lindon Barr’s well-executed choreography, it is, at the very least and perhaps fittingly, a feast for the eyes.
The pulsating, guitar-heavy score and tight live band are notably masterful, as the clearly talented cast fight against often trite lyrical and storytelling clichés and under-developed characterisation to deliver a nonetheless admirable performance. Niamh Perry as Pandora provides undoubtedly the most moving and poignant performance of the whole show in act two’s My Last Goodbye, a fitting display of her talent and emotive prowess sadly slightly lost in the first act. Natalie Anderson’s vocally-superb turn as Tara is the more well-rounded character of the production, injecting a much-needed warmth and humour into the hurried narrative. David Albury as Jimmy alongside the criminally under-utilised Kurt Lansbury as his father deliver consistently compelling and emotive performances.
A somewhat confusing spectacle played out by a talented ensemble against a visually striking photographic backdrop, Ensemble – The Musical manages to say everything yet land very little, remaining sadly one-dimensional with an arguably ironic lack of focus.
Exposure – The Musical is on at St James Theatre from 16th July until 27th August 2016. Book your tickets here.
Watch the teaser trailer for Exposure – The Musical here: