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Review: 2020: The Musical at Underbelly Bristo Square – Ed Fringe

Review by Olivia Ruggiero

I suppose we’ve all been waiting for the day when the plight of struggling artists during the pandemic was turned into a show, a fringe show, for all to see. Well, that day has come and still the question begs to be asked – is it necessary?

2020: The Musical follows the story of two artists – Adam and Emily who are sure that 2020 is going to be their year and for a moment (albeit a brief one) – it is. They successfully land a gig performing in a West End show, they meet, and Emily soon falls in love with Adam… and then Lockdown 1 happens. And then Lockdown 2… and finally Lockdown 3.

The most successful part of this show is the imitation of Boris Johnson’s constant appearances in the media updating the public on the state of the United Kingdom and what’s coming next… spoiler: it’s another Lockdown. This gag, repeated a few times through the show, gets a genuine chuckle from the audience, who seem otherwise unamused by the humour of the show. Perhaps it’s too soon to be cracking jokes about the pandemic?

The show takes on a lot of “Broadway flair” with some excellent choreography – Fosse-like jazz, a very funny hip-hop number that takes place in a nursing home, and a cute little tap dance – however the show lacks a little of the finesse of a true glamourous Broadway show. Keeping in mind, it is a Fringe show, there’s something not quite catchy about the tunes and there’s a few little hiccups along the way that don’t help.

There are some issues with the sound and often time the harmonies sound a little off – whether this is an extension of the issue that seems to be occurring in the sound design or perhaps a little rehearsal needed, this is an area that can definitely be improved on in the show. Whilst the cast are obviously fantastic dancers, the vocal quality is often lacking, with high notes struggling to be hit and some of the “bigger” vocal moments feeling a little lackluster.

The book often feels a little disjointed and the story doesn’t quite flow – there are some nice moments, where we see some genuinely beautiful storylines developing, like Emily’s connection with the nursing home patients or Emily and Adam’s relationship, however these can be worked on, so the story feels all together more authentic and makes a little more sense. The character of the narrator feels a little out of place, a little “Dr Zeus” in the way she rhymes and is never there – but rather a figment of the audiences imagination, however she lacks the quirkiness required to fully pull this off and as an audience member I struggled to find her purpose aside from to provide cohesion to the narrative. Perhaps in later developments, this character could more effectively weave into the story, so we know the true meaning behind her part.

2020: The Musical is a show that needs a little more developing and time in the rehearsal room to realise its full potential. Perhaps the world isn’t quite ready for a musical about the pandemic, perhaps audiences need a little more time…

Image Supplied


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