It is brilliant to see new musical theatre being nurtured as it has with Lift. Sadly though, despite showing great potential, it still feels unfinished.
Conceptually the show is clever; set in a lift at Covent Garden Tube Station, a Busker imagines connections between the eight strangers that surround him for that 54-second journey.
The ensemble cast are strong. Cynthia Erivo gives a show-stopping performance as the Lap Dancer; her emotional ballad ‘It’s Been A Year’ is shattering. Jonny Fines as a gay Ballet Dancer balances mischievous energy with tenderness. Julie Atherton is moving as the French Teacher, but her song ‘Lost In Translation’ is ironically hard to understand – possibly due to the frustratingly unreliable sound.
Not everyone gets equal chance to shine; the underused Ellie Kirk as Athletic & Wearing a Thong and Robbie Towns as Tall, Dark & Handsome do well but are not given their moment in the spotlight, figuratively and literally. Kirk particularly is a captivating actress.
Craig Adams’ music does have moments of brilliance
Georgia Lowe’s design is beautifully simple, and smartly defines the show’s different worlds. Director Steven Paling uses it to its full capacity. Andy Voller’s striking lighting helps create some very memorable moments.
The main problem is that it doesn’t feel complete. While Craig Adams’ music does have moments of brilliance – ‘Diversion Ends’ and ‘It’s Been A Year’ particularly stand out – the overlong songs could do with judicious trimming. The narrative drive is too weak; at only eighty minutes long there is certainly room in Ian Watson’s book for some much-needed dialogue. This would help avoid leaving the audience rather disoriented.
Adams’ music shows great potential in what feels like a rather underdeveloped production. Lift is worth seeing – if you are happy to spend the next few days trying to work it out.
*** (3 stars)
Runs until 24th Feb