Fiver at Southwark Playhouse
Fiver is a new musical by Alex James Ellison and Tom Lees, which combines wit, frustration and heartache to tell a story with an unusual vantage point. The character that weaves us through the narrative is, in fact, a simple £5 note taken from an audience member as the production begins. Now, it is not often that an inanimate object becomes the protagonist – and yet, Fiver succeeds in creating a compelling story about this one’s life – and the audience follow it as it is passed from hand to hand, from busker to shopkeeper and beyond.
To put it simply – the production is fantastic. Led by an extremely talented multi-rolling ensemble of just five performers (Luke Bayer, Dan Buckley, Aoife Clesham, Hiba Elchikhe and Alex James Ellison himself), the journey of the £5 note is brought vibrantly to life. Each performer is given their time to shine in a series of vignettes that capture the true scope of what it means to be alive right now – through explorations of all emotions, from painfully realised teenage angst to the sweetness of falling in love. The standout performances of the evening are by Dan Buckley, who presents each character with an unwavering sincerity that draws the audience in, and Hiba Elchikhe, whose charisma is ever present. That being said, each member of the cast is truly excellent in each and every one of their roles (and there are a lot of them!)
However, the music is the true star of the production – a brave yet exciting mix of genres from rock to soft ballads that leaves the audience on the edge of their seats. Ellison and Lees’s unwillingness to stick within one genre opens endless possibilities within the show, making it stand out in an era of endless jukebox musicals with tired material. The songs are new, fresh and memorable, making for a performance that the audience really feel a part of.
The set is small but makes excellent use of the limited space in the Southwark Playhouse, designer Justin Williams creating a set that moves from place to place without feeling cramped or left behind. In short, Fiver is an engaging, hilarious and at times heartbreaking production, which is sure to have an excellent future on the stage.
Fiver is at Southwark Playhouse from 3rd until 20th July 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.