The Little Big Things at Soho Place Theatre
Debuting at London’s year-old Soho Place, The Little Big Things is a heartwarming, colourful and emotional tale based on the memoir of former teenage rugby hopeful Henry Fraser and his journey to accepting his disability after he is paralysed from the neck down in a diving accident on holiday in 2009. The show, directed by Luke Sheppard, is a biographical retelling of the events before and after Fraser’s accident.
There are two versions of the young man: the optimistic pre-accident Henry (Jonny Amies) and the post-accident, solemn Henry (Ed Larkin), who tells his former self his story using flashbacks. Alongside Larkin, Amies is fantastic at capturing the jovial innocence of a teenage boy untouched by the harsh world. The two match together perfectly to highlight the impact that a life-changing incident can have on a person’s psyche.
Doubling is very much at the centre of Sheppard’s play; each scene links gracefully with the next to showcase the family’s difficulty in coping with their situation, as well as Henry’s own struggles with his new reality and planning for a different future.
Fierce Fraser matriarch Fran is played by the brilliant Linzi Hateley, who embodies the perfect balance of an overprotective and heartbroken mother as she belts out the sorrowful tune One to 17. Throughout the production, Hateley and Amie’s chemistry exemplifies a beautiful mother-and-son relationship, strengthened by the accident and a hilariously vibrant clubbing dance scene.
Nick Butcher’s musical theatre debut feels uplifting yet sometimes out of place for the subject matter of the play. Act Two song Silence of the Sea feels somewhat cheesy compared to the opening number, Never Coming Home. While some of the pop songs fall short, the immaculate synchronicity of the cast’s accompanying choreographed moves make up for that.
The ensemble shine in their ability to move quickly around Soho Place’s central stage – partly thanks to Colin Richmond’s minimalist set. The Fraser brothers, who recall the Lost Boys in Peter Pan, are a treat to watch: Dom (Jordan Benjamin) stands out with his unparalleled vocals and dancing ability, but together the trio harmonise without a second thought. Special mention must be given to Amy Trigg’s deadpan Shit Happens (as Agnes), in addition to Dr Graham’s gospel-inspired performance of Work of Heart, which is nailed by Melinda Parrish.
Visually, the star of the show is the colour cueing between key moments – an unexpected but ingenious choice by Sheppard and lighting designer Howard Hudson that is executed flawlessly. The mention of a colour by Henry triggers this change, which, combined with whimsical transitional music, aids in showcasing the young man’s shifting emotions.
The show delivers when it comes to simple theatrical tactics that elevate it; however, it’s the cast and their versatile abilities who make us realise that sad moments can be transformed into the happiest of endings by paying attention to the little things in life.
The Little Big Things is at Soho Place Theatre from 2nd September until 25th November 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: