Review: Liberty Rides Forth
Image: Waterloo East Theatre
Liberty - Dereck Walker
Trevor - William Hazell
Callie - Chloe Rice
Thalia - Emma Scott
Ute - Georgie Faith
Liberty, a mischievous drag queen, unexpectedly springs to life from the pages of Trevor's new novel.
The hapless author is attempting to write a best-seller to win over Susie, the woman he loves from afar; but now suddenly he and the three apprentice Muses sent to inspire him are fighting for Susie's very survival!
Arriving at Waterloo East Theatre via the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringes, this is a brand new full length musical full of toe-tapping tunes and delicious comedy.
This musical venture has its focus on literature - or, at least, the act of devising a piece of literature - and I use that term pretty loosely.
It all starts with three trainee muses who are about to graduate - get their wings might be a more appropriate expression, since muses are inspirational goddesses from Greek mythology whose job it is to inspire the artistic and scientific community.
These are "muses on a mission" to seek out and assist someone who needs a dose of their remedial inspiration - and Trveor Ramsbottom fits the bill.
A clerk by day, it's in the evening when he really comes alive as a wannabe writer.
The problem is that Trevor hasn't ever finished a piece of writing, so has nothing to publish for which he might receive acclaim.
The muses decide to prompt him with ideas, but when he recites an incantation a spirit appears who turns out to be controlling and domineering, and more powerful than the muses.
Tackled as an absurdist construct, this musical might stand a chance of being raised out of the realms of the merely ordinary to become something truly comic and, thus, appealing.
As it is, though, the plot isn't rich enough to provide the necessary impetus to maintain a two hour musical, especially given the lacklustre dialogue that fails to exploit either the characters or the basic plot elements.
And, given the extraordinary nature of the set-up and the other-worldly characters, you'd expect something more formidable in the comedy department.
The role of Liberty, commendably played by Dereck Walker in drag, misses the opportunity to layer that character's personality with the unique brand of comedy one experiences in many drag shows.
There are no double-entendres, or even anything akin to the kind of risqué humour that is the hallmark of that genre.
In fact, the musical is almost a comedic desert with large swathes of the show failing to get even the hint of a giggle from the eager audience.
On the positive side of the balance sheet, the cast are capable singers and actors, and both Dereck Walker as Liberty and William Hazell as Trevor do their level best to inject vitality into their roles.
Musical director, Michael Roulston, adds considerably to the musical flavour of the show with some lovely piano accompaniment and some engaging and effective arrangements.
And, overall, the production has considerable merit in terms of its professional approach and high production values.
None of that, though, is sufficient to compensate for the lack of comic fizz in the plot and the show ends up feeling laboured, unduly drawn-out and rather lame.
Right at the end of the musical, there's a glimmer of hope when Trevor is trying to get rid of Liberty - but it felt like too little too late to make a significant dent in the general impression from what had preceded it, leaving the sour aroma of disappointment in the air and the real sense of a missed opportunity.
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