4-⭐ · Fringe Reviews 2018 · Reviews · Theatre Reviews

REVIEW: ‘Lucky’ by Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society

4 Stars

(written from the 10/08/18 showing):

I’m always a fan of original musicals at the Fringe because, more often that not, they’ll prove to be something quite special. Lucky certainly has the makings of something very special, even if it is still a work in progress with a development and growth to do. 

Musically, Lucky takes a little while to get going. The first song comes a lot later than you’d expect from a musical and is a little underwhelming for an opening number. As it progresses, however, the piece becomes more musically confident and shows off the skills the Composer, Harry Castle, undoubtedly possesses. A little rethink of when and where the songs come in could do a lot for this musical, especially in considering where to convert dialogue to song. The title track is fantastic, and memorable, but the other songs of piece don’t quite manage to achieve the same heights. A little rewrite of certain parts is perhaps needed but only a little one. It’s all a matter of digging out potential that’s already there.

Lucky enjoys a firm and reliable cast; Joy Gingell is perfectly cast in the role of Lucy, and makes the ideal lead for this piece with an enchanting voice that does all due justice to the catchy title track.  Martha Cook has the most powerful singing voice of the cast and puts on a flawlessly dry and icy performance in the role of Viv.  Henry Eaton-Mercer’s Ricky Pence has, unfortunately, perhaps the weakest voice of the cast but makes up for it with his sense of character, comic-timing, and (from what I gather) his ability to ad-lib.  

Ash Weir’s book makes for a compelling narrative with easy-to-invest-in characters. Knowing that this is an unfinished piece, I would very much like to see more of it. It has set up conflicts and contemplations that I find myself wanting to see realised, which is a testament to how well Weir’s writing, and the actors who deliver it, can make you care about these characters in 50 minutes. It also helps how genuinely funny and sweet this show is; there are a lot of legitimate laughs to be had and they come consistently. The pacing is, I will say, a little off, especially in the beginning. Some points are rapidly skated over and some take a lot more effort to reach than is really needed. Again, though, this is an unfinished piece, and pacing can be easily sorted out. I was legitimately surprised when the final bows came, I didn’t realise those 50 minutes had zipped by so quickly. 

I’ll entirely ignore the tech issues the production had with microphones and such which caused lyrics to be lost under the music from time-to-time. That’s not their fault and doesn’t take anything away from the talents of these actors or the company as a whole. 

As a full-length production, with a slight rewrite of some songs and a rethink about their distribution and place in the piece, Lucky could stand a good shot of being a smash-hit. The potential is there, and the talent of the creators obvious. As long as they keep that spark (and keep Joy Gingall) then this is a show they could go very far with. 




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