Review by Carly Fisher
Billed as the meeting point between Pitch Perfect and Friends, the Bristol Suspensions’ 2023 Ed Fringe show comes on the back of two years of great triumphs for the group - a win at the 2021 UK National Championships and a sell out Fringe run in 2022. An A Cappella group from the University of Bristol, it’s awesome to see such a large group of young people come together to make this show happen!
Adorned in their signature red/maroon and black, the large group has tried to write a script that pops with all your favourite Friends references and is interwoven throughout the songs. For me, the script doesn’t quite work - it’s goes that little bit further than funny cheesy into pure cheesy territory - whether that’s the writing or the delivery, I couldn’t quite tell you, but overall, the script made the production feel sweet but clearly like a uni production rather than a highly polished fringe show.
Musically however, the group is tight. The arrangements are creative and well balanced to really show off their talented performers. A mix of songs you’re likely to know with many that you very well may not, the group’s synchronicity is key and they execute that unison flawlessly.
So important to any A Cappella group is that this unity extends beyond just the vocals, but into the choreography and blocking as well. There is not one step or one hand gesture out of place - this show is well rehearsed! There are definitely some stand out vocalists (I wish I could credit them but unfortunately I could not find a list of performers anywhere!) and with that, some excellent solos.
The final performance (when I saw the show) saw some members of the group clearly battling the fringe flu and it was a perfect reminder of how important each member of the group is at all times to balance the show…one of these performers really should not have been on stage they looked so sick but this performer stuck it out to be there for her team and to play her part in achieving the sound that they have obviously worked so hard to accomplish. The show goes on but special shout out to the one performer, and I’m sure that they will know who they are x reading this, who really stepped up to make this final show happen with their group.
I’m sure that performances like this make the school extremely attractive to teens interested in pursuing music and particularly A Cappella and I think it is absolutely wonderful to use fringe as a platform for this. I hope many young people see shows like this, created by universities, and as such, consider whether that step in education is right for them, and if it is, how they can get involved in the community of the school that they attend. Additionally, I think A Cappella is full of such important skills of team work, support, ensemble, hard work and timing that whatever these talented singers pursue next, I am sure that they are richer as people for having been involved in this group.
This is not a perfect fringe show but when you hold yourself up for comparison to two major pop culture icons, namely Friends, of course, that is going to be very hard to achieve. It is however an excellent contribution from young performers that hopefully continue to come to the fringe for many years to come.
Congratulations to all!