their last show together, Gray gets to have a body below the neck this time,which must be nice for her. It's probably also a nice change for Webb to be out of school uniform and play someone his own age, as 20-something Will, who's found himself the legal guardian of his teenage nephew after his sister's death. Michael (Liam Doyle) has gone mute since his mother died (but his hearing and sight seem fine; no word on what his pinball abilities are like.) Stephen Rolley voices and sings Michael's thoughts, as well as playing him in flashbacks to when he was younger and more Welsh, opposite Gray as his DeadMum. In a last-ditch effort to get Michael talking again, Will enlists ex-girlfriend Lauren (Tori Allen-Martin.) She's now living with his former band-mate Wolf (Greg Oliver, whose singing is better than his acting,) now working for a record company and hoping to sign Michael to his label.
The publicity for After the Turn suggests it's primarily a showcase for the music of composer Tim Prottey-Jones, and on this front it's utterly successful. There's barely a weak number, Prottey-Jones' style is a pop-rock that's spot-on for musical theatre, and I can easily see him supplying tunes to a large-scale production. The framework to the songs is a lot more rough and ready (I follow Webb on Twitter¹ so know their rehearsal time was virtually non-existent.) The story is a mish-mash of familiar ideas, the book by Robert Gould and director Sarah Henley is several drafts away from ready, and the whole show's at least 20 minutes too long. I won't go into the plot holes, although exactly what Wolf does at the record company seems to vary from scene to scene. Whatever it is he can't be much good at it, since he apparently needs to sign a new act, and is concentrating his efforts entirely on someone who doesn't even talk, let alone sing. I think because he does coke and has an appalling haircut, the record label figured they should probably give him a job.
But overall there's a lot to enjoy here, if you don't worry about the story too much you're left with an attractive cast, putting a lot of energy and enthusiasm into good songs. Webb, Gray, Doyle and Oliver can all sell a tune; Allen-Martin is wobbly at times, and Rolley has a couple of songs pitched too high for his voice, but the ones in the right key he can belt out like a good'un. LOOK AT ME USING WORDS AS IF I KNOW WHAT THEY MEAN! "Pitched." "Key." Smoke and mirrors, honestly. Anyway After the Turn is far from the finished article but the things it does do well it has got just right.
After the Turn by Tim Prottey-Jones, Robert Gould, Tori Allen-Martin, Angela Prottey-Jones and Sarah Henley is booking until the 25th of February at the Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton.
Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes including interval.
¹slightly surreally, he replied to my tweet about the show during the interval. I'd tweeted about the unfortunately-placed hole in his jeans. Because I'm all about the things that really matter. He was also retweeting reviews of the show at the time - reading reviews during the interval? SURELY THAT WAY MADNESS LIES!