High Fidelity at Turbine Theatre
Slackers in a retro music store sing their hearts out in the rambunctious musical comedy High Fidelity at Turbine Theatre. Directed by Tom Jackson Greaves, this rock romp speaks of lost love and long-playing records via upbeat tunes and lively moves.
This fun and engaging show probes the psyches of man-children who resist the responsibilities of adulthood, like eternal students in frat boy purgatory who never quite graduate. Though the permanent adolescent is a classic motif in a multitude of narratives, particularly in films like Animal House, Failure to Launch and The Hangover – this piece bestows an unusual additional perspective, presenting emotionality and self-reflection from a male point of view.
With melodious pop songs, energetic choreography, a brooding storyline and a camp yesteryear atmosphere, High Fidelity is a romantic tale in which a delinquent dreamer makes out all right in the end regardless. As musicals by nature are rarely tragedies, the work’s positivity and optimism come as no surprise, but the characters’ angst and self-examination undergone in the process ultimately create a more climactic result – as opposed to the typical sugary sweetness to which this genre can be prone.
Performances are dynamic, charismatic and well-executed. David Shield’s set design is simple – so much so that many of the props, such as LP records, are invisible and must be imagined. This feature suggests the Brechtian breaking of the fourth wall – often used in UK theatre – forcing us to provide for certain key elements in our own minds and thus keeping the audience as part of the show rather than psychologically removed from it.
Likewise, costuming is mostly casual, in a style that could easily have been worn in the play’s rehearsals, blurring the line between finished and unfinished product, and thus between performance and reality. Lighting (Andrew Exeter) is also basic and natural, reinforcing the same quality. But beyond the “alienation effect”, these elements seem to enhance the narrative: invisible LPs might suggest the characters’ illusory approach to existence, the simplicity highlighting their idler mentalities and undone lives.
A coming-of-age story via song – unique in its retro LP theme and its spotlight on the male psyche facing up to itself – High Fidelity is also a vibrant, entertaining production.
Photos: Mark Senior
High Fidelity is at Turbine Theatre from 21st November until 7th December 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.