One man, one woman and a reptile called Brian Eno in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Survival of the fittest pulling Darwinian principles in a new direction!
Such is the pace of change, I thought the Seven Dials Playhouse was a new theatre that escaped my beady eye. But it is actually the new moniker for the Tristan Bates Theatre just off St Martin’s Lane. Newly refurbished with slick branding, it plays host to this new comedy musical billed as a cross between 28 Days and When Harry Met Sally. It’s a heady mixture and no mean feat, combining comedy with tuneful musicality. But on the whole they pull it off with a sense of style and gumption.
Jass (Jade Johnson) and Finn (Elija Ferreira) have just survived the apocalypse. They are apparently the last two people left on earth. The inclination would surely favour peaceful co-existence, but what on earth happens when these two souls fall out. No best friend to whom you can pour out your troubles. No counsellor to help you through those rough patches?
We see their relationship develop from first meeting at a party four years before. As the apocalypse strikes Finn has made a decision. But the devastation around them changes the dynamic as they struggle for survival. We follow their adventures as the couple assume control over a land seemingly without challenge. However, Jass is anxious to find other traces of life, desperate to learn it’s not just the two of them. She wants to explore further afield; but Finn is reluctant, why can’t they just be content with each other?
The ‘survivors’ type storyline has been used many times over the years, but rarely (if ever) has it weaved elements of romantic comedy into the darkest of scenarios. The creators deserve real credit for not only trying but actually making it work. A set consisting of a single raised platform with slogans daubed on the walls is surprisingly effective. The lead actors deliver strong and confident performances in a two hander lasting eighty minutes. Both sing beautifully with Elijah Ferreira doubling up on guitar. The songs are deeply embedded in the narrative so aren’t particularly memorable. Nevertheless, they do their job and add extra dimension to an otherwise thin plot. The comedic elements could be stronger and don’t exploit the story’s potential as often as it should. But Jade Johnson and Elija Ferreira are hugely likeable with infectious personalities that see the show hit all the right marks.
Director: Georgie Rankcom
Music and Lyrics: Tim Gilvin
Book and Lyrics: Imogen Palmer
Producer: The Grey Area Productions
Review by Brian Penn