Billed as a new musical to celebrate Cool Britannia, Everything in Colour is the familiar story of the lead singer of a band who is offered solo fame and fortune by a record company, and who has to choose between himself and his friends. When he decides to take the fame for himself, he is then transported by time travel to a future where he has one hour to evaluate the consequences of his actions, in full Christmas Carol style.

This musical uses the studio space of the New Wimbledon theatre to full effect, with set design utilising three movable wardrobes that open up to reveal different sets, covered in posters of the time cleverly setting the time period (Spice Girls, the Conservatives and Titanic all feature).

However, a musical set so firmly in the Brit pop era of the late 90s (think Blur v Oasis) really ought to have some Brit pop style in it. The music is all original, and apart from one admittedly brilliant song, the rest sounded like a throwback to the early 80’s at times, and more like a parody of bad Blondie records than hits from the glory days of Brit rock. The music was often repeated and songs were overlong meaning any momentum that had been built up was washed away. Additionally, the music had been pre-recorded onto a backing track and was performed on handheld microphones, which was fine when in the context of the band performing or rehearsing, but when used in that way in the more tender heartfelt moments, it was completely awkward and wrong.

Even the underscoring music, also pre-recorded, had its weaknesses – instead of fading out gradually to create atmosphere, it was just stopped dead meaning any feeling that could have been made was lost, along with any vocal clarity due to the show being incredibly loud. The lighting was not so much ‘Everything in colour’ as everything in pink, and at many occasions left the cast in pools of darkness, meaning even in such a small space, you missed some key moments.

The cast were mostly made up of A level students of Class Action Theatre at Godalming College, who show promise for their future careers, along with a few actors who have already trained at a higher, more professional level. They were full of energy and enthusiasm one might expect from a young cast, but unfortunately the script and lyrics were so basic that it was hard for the cast to get any depth out of them. The saving graces of the show were Amy Fox as Marilyn, the best friend of Perry the lead singer, and Spencer Wood who played the role of ‘Man’. Fox played the friend who gets forgotten by the man she loves, brilliantly, and showed real heartbreak and feeling when needed – the level of emotion that should have been widely on display from the rest of the characters. Wood played a mysterious character that didn’t serve wholly as narrator, or as ghost, but none the less, was a cross between Johnny Rotten and Captain Jack sparrow in attitude and flamboyance. He demanded the audience’s attention with a bellowing voice, but his comedic touches when guiding Perry to his future life was the glimpse of what the show could have been. If this character had featured more in narration, this would have improved the accessibility of the story. With lovely comic turns from Natalie Goodacre and Louisa Stephens as the two ditsy (don’t call them groupies!) fans of the band, the comic relief and pace that was needed from the show shone through, and when these four performed, the show started to achieve its aim.

Overall, the pace, direction and choreography failed to deliver the themes that were on display. This show should have made you feel the pain and hurt that Perry caused his friends in a more natural way, not through stereotypical characters and obvious staging that was shown. The show does have potential, and the energy on display was undeniable, but one would suggest starting from scratch and really capturing the style of the era and the real pains. At one point, a character stated ‘you can’t blame a house for falling down, if the foundations were weak to begin with….’ and I would apply this here. Not in a bad way, but it just needs improving to achieve the potential that could have been hit here.

Runs until 21st July

The Public ReviewsOriginally published on The Public Reviews.