Review: The Mould That Changed the World ***

The Mould That Changed the World

Musicals and Opera

The Space @ Surgeons Hall Grand Theatre (V53)

Aug 5th to 25th (Not Sunday’s)

Varies 12:30 and 17:30

*** 3 Stars

The Fringe festival has always been a breeding ground for work that has a deep political or meaningful message and this production of “The Mould that changed the world” written by composer Robin Hiley is an exploration of the creation of penicillin. The starting point for antibiotic treatments.

The overuse of such drugs has brought the world to a crisis point as Antimicrobial Resistance in the developed world is an ever-present danger. All fertile ground for a musical, while the book does much to get its points across and leaves the audience with much to think about. It’s as a piece of musical theatre that its clear the show has a lot more to do to become a true musical theatre piece as opposed to a public health message in a musical format.

What this production really becomes is a hybrid, giving a lot of detail information on this history of antibiotics, the use and misuse of such medication that’s led to the crisis, its sobering stuff. The score is akin to les miserable in its styling and is performed well by the excellent live band led by Neil Metcalf.

The principal cast is all professionals and delivers well as a whole, as this is a strong ensemble piece from the start to finish. The professionals are joined by a chorus made up of medical professionals which is an interesting addition and may have something to do with the fact that the production is produced by The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) and has involvement from the University of Edinburgh.

Stylistically the best is made of the space, and the journey from the first world war to today is handled well although the decision to use black microphones taped to the principal’s faces with Elastoplast is a little odd and given the excellence of the band they probably could do away with them altogether and let the actors cut loose acoustically.

It’s clear there is life for this show beyond the fringe and a full-bodied musical is in the making, for now, it’s clear getting this important message across is to fore and for that this company should be commended as this is one musical that is truly making a difference.

Review by Brett Herriot