As a production, BARE is almost perfect. Tonight’s performance was less so, but we both recognise its potential.
BARE: a pop opera, Tues 12th– Sat 16th May, ADC, 7.45pm, £14/11
This is not your traditional love story.
BARE is so much more than just a story of love, but one of struggle, fears, growing up, uncertainty and fun. And CUMTS have done a wonderful job.
It is difficult, real, perhaps slightly dated, but has at its core pure, raw emotion.
We wanted to give the show two reviews; one for the production and one for the performance. Unfortunately, we can’t. But here’s why BARE is still the show to see this Easter term.
Vocally this show is impressive. Joe Pitts, probably the star of the show, performed wonderfully throughout, providing emotion with every lyric. His notes were great and his character was well understood which left me (Sam) something of an emotional wreck by the end (although no saying why!). Ed Limb was also strong tonight, improving in the second half to deliver a gut wrenching solo toward the end. The chemistry between the pair was very believable and really drove the first act. They make a really cute couple.
Sadly, the entire cast were somewhat let down by the tech team. Of course, opening night brings with it a multitude of technical challenges, but the sound quality was diabolical. Static noise cut through most of Act 1 and took away from large parts of emotional songs. Frustratingly, the problem was not solved by Act 2, but it was less noticeable.
The band were quite quiet, too. The catchy bass lines and drum beats were lost tonight which took some of the energy of the performance away. However, this will inevitably (hopefully) be sorted by tomorrow and the show will improve immensely.
This show was not bad. The cast did amazingly well to overcome the technical hitches. The songs were great. Emily Murray was a phenomenally sassy nun with some talented riffs and James Daly hit some wonderful high notes and harmonies. Lucy Dickson also deserves a mention with her beautiful rendition of ‘A Quiet Night at Home’ which gave me goosebumps. It would be impossible to pick out each individual vocalist as all were fantastic. But the group numbers were certainly a highlight along with the superb note from Pitts, Daly, Dickson, Limb and Kitty Sillars at the end of Act 1.
This show needs improvement. Some more energy and slightly slicker scene transitions would make it that little bit better. But it must not be forgotten that this is a week three, exam term show and there’s no doubt that by Saturday, this could be nigh on perfect.
Sarah Mercer (Director) should be proud. The staging was lovely, especially at the end of Act 1 and the use of the soundscape of personal stories was incredibly effective. At times, though, it did feel quite rushed: subtle developments, including one pivotal one, were skimmed through. A few more pauses and time to breathe would pay dividends.
The cast connected well, both with each other and the audience who responded with laughter, applause, tears and emotion and well deserved standing ovation. The set was also simple and effective, even if the scene changes were somewhat clumsy. A particular mention needs to go to Harry Stockwell who designed the visually stunning stained glass windows which were well used and lit throughout.
This show will question what you think you know about love, loss, adolescence and religion. It will make you laugh and likely cry – be prepared.
Fingers crossed that they fix the technical issues because we cannot recommend this show highly enough.
Rating – 4.5 stars
For more images of the BARE dress rehearsal please see Johannes’ blog here