MUSICALS AND OPERA
Gilded Balloon, Teviot, The Debating Hall, Venue 14
Performs until August 14th, 12 noon
⭐⭐⭐ (3 stars)
Jonathan Larson’s 1993 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical adaptation of “La Boheme” known as Rent transformed the musical theatre landscape with its honesty and power. Telling the story of a group of friends as they survive living on the breadline whilst following there artistic and creative leanings in the face of the HIV and AIDS epidemic that costs the lives of a generation of America remains as potent as ever and popular choice for a Fringe Production.
Local Company the Edinburgh University Footlights bring there to take of the show to this year fringe, unfortunately, it’s the creative decisions and technical team faux pas that let it down. Firstly, this show is nothing short of terribly lit, much of the action is in the gloom, the actors are lit from behind but hardly ever from the front meaning we are watching shadows perform. There is also an issue of actors finding what little light there is, so we stand a chance of seeing them. The problems with sound including late cues, microphone issues abound. The company on stage deserve better.
Director Kirsten Innes has worked her cast well with a couple of exceptional performances, especially Rachel Brown as Mimi who delivers an emotional and highly truthful turn. The highlight of the show is Gordon Stackhouse as Angel, the emotional lynchpin of the story, a terrific vocal and physical performance indeed. Innes decision to alter the ending of the show is a wrong one. Larson wrote the end of Rent to put across the point that we as humanity all deserve a second chance in our lives. Sadly, this potent point is lost in this production.
Some of the plus points include a polished small onstage band under the musical direction of Hugh Richardson and Mark Sandford and a strong ensemble cast working around the principals.
This should be a two-star show but the performances of Brown and Stackhouse lift it up if the lighting and sound can be fixed then maybe there is no day but today for this production of Rent.