Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Alex’s life has fallen apart. His girlfriend has left him, he’s been fired and he can’t afford his rent. His youngest sister, Annabelle, is determined that he won’t go through it alone. She rallies her reluctant older sister Lana, and the three siblings set out to spend the weekend together, helping their big brother move on.
If you’d read this show’s description in the festival guides, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a heavy and deadly serious production. A musical about losing love, home and income could be a bit of a downer for such a late night slot. But this new musical is a hidden comical gem, with sharp and witty writing, fresh melodies and a cast that sings and acts brilliantly.
Alex (Tom Glenister) has been traded in by his ex-girlfriend for a host of a breakfast TV show. He also lost his job and now needs to move into a gritty room above a pub since that’s the only place he can afford. His two younger sisters, the relentlessly optimistic youngster Annabelle (Hannah Kendell) and the cold-as-ice Lana (Sylvie Briggs), come to help him move in and get on with his life.
Alex lost his job through a slightly surreal incident involving office stationary. There are plenty of other bizarre moments in the show, mainly involving pizza’s and grotesque lies. Due to the clever writing, they simply work and the audience accepts every turn of events willingly.
The staging of this musical is clever and the company uses the relatively big venue very well. There is, however, one big problem: the acoustics of Underbelly Cowgate’s Big Belly are abysmal, which makes it hard to hear every word in dialogue or singing. Of course, better projection, a slightly slower pace and louder voices might help a bit, so would turning down the volume of the piano, but the cast get on with it as good as they can. Only supplying the actors with microphones would be a real solution in this venue, but for a new production company as Bristol-based Deadpan Theatre that could be too much of an expense. The lousy acoustics might have been the reason that pizza delivery girl playing Eliot Salt, who isn’t only a brilliant actress but also signed for the lyrics and co-wrote the script, had the misfortune of starting a song in the wrong key. She however kept her shit together in a remarkable way.
The songs of this show are well constructed, with some beautiful lines (“the scent of cinnamon and deception”) and entertaining melodies. The duet ‘Caj and Cool’, in which older sister Lana and bartender Sam (Luke Ward) are pretending to be not interested in each other, comes close to musical theatre perfection: enchanting lyrics, exciting music and electrifying acting.
The trio of musicians at the back of the stage play an integral part of this show. Not only as instrumentalists and backing vocals, they are an unexpectedly funny mixture of an ancient Greek choir and supporting actors. They give the piece the right amount of self-deprecation. Pianist and bandleader Tom Grant impresses as the slightly camp Ernest, who, as he confidently exclaims, “nails it”.
Get Your Shit Together is a lovely feel-good show that reminds you that it’s never too disastrous to start over again. Great new writing with an impressive cast, that deserves to be seen.