Edinburgh Reviews: Title of Show (Assembly), Sincerely, Mr Toad (Pleasance)

Title of Show, Assembly ✭✭✭✭✭

For fans of musical theatre, Title of Show is the show to catch at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe. One might say that the entire experience of putting on a musical about the writing of the writing of a musical for a festival, during the festival, has created a meta-meta-musical paradox that could cause the destruction of the entire musical genre. An excruciatingly talented quartet, Carley Stenson, Jamie Lee Pike, Robbie Towns and Ricky Johnston imbue their characters (and their character’s characters) with likeability and real charm, thanks to, rather than in spite of, a book that constantly threatens to pitch over into over-indulgence. The singing is sublime, the four voices blend beautifully, the choreography is perfunctory rather than inspired, but it fits the structure perfectly. There is the occasional dip in directorial pace and panache, but this is the treat of the summer. Definitely one of our favourite things.

***** (5 stars)
Runs until 26th August
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Sincerely, Mr Toad, Pleasance ✭✭✭

Sell-a-Door’s new musical Sincerely, Mr Toad has the potential to be a truly lovely chamber piece. The book, by David Hutchinson is outstanding, and his lyrics, with Katie McIvor are touching and often beautiful. David Wilson’s music has moments of real musical gold, albeit a little ballad-heavy. The set is used inventively, and the costumes are highly professional. The outstanding cast lend the material real glister, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts. In some way this is due to the strange decision to use over-amplified, Disney-esque backing tracks which swamp Wilson’s music and shift the style too much from a legit-chamber musical to a modern pop musical, but there are also some structural problems. However, this musical is bristling with potential and talent – Adam Venus as Kenneth Graeme is thrilling throughout, and Sarah Borges brings class and sensitivity to her role as his wife Elspeth.

*** ( 3 stars)
Runs until 26th August
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