Edinburgh Fringe 2009
A very professional offering from a very professional outfit, everything about Been So Long is classy. The script, the set, the band, the performers and the performance itself. This is a very experienced group of players who have a long and strong pedigree. And they continue to develop and strengthen that by attracting stars of the calibre of Omar. He is a revelation as the lovelorn barman about to close his late night bar for the very last time.
Sassy, soulful sophisticated this piece is a joy. The only drawback is the morning slot. If this was put on around midnight, it would rapidly become one of the most sought after tickets in town.
Barman Barney’s place is about to close for the last time. The swings and arrows of misfortune have hit Barney and his bar. He is personally lovelorn and has professionally lost out to the new place to be across the road.
Two of his regulars arrive looking for action, and past ghosts appear to settle old scores and threaten even deeper wounds. The play looks afresh at old grounds; the frustrations and foibles of love and loss, the competing emotions in friendship and faithlessness.
Its the music that makes it. The songs are well crafted, very well performed. All the musicians and the singers are strong, and Omar is terrific. The cast of Cat Simmons, Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Harry Hepple and Arinze Kene put great energy and zest into the show.
Apart from a middle section where three ballads in a row slowed it down too much for my liking, this is one of those shows which is immediately greeted and embraced by the audience as a whole, and very enthusiastically received.