Review by Carly Fisher
A new coming of age musical, Winging It, is a great example of shows that are written by someone from the group that they are trying to speak to as well. In this instance, Lydia Whitbread has written something for teens, by a teen, and there is a lot to be very proud of for her debut into the professional sector.
The Company of Winging It is large, especially by Fringe standards so I commend the company for taking the risk to put on a show of this magnitude - it’s an impressive undertaking.
The story follows a group of people who are on the brink of turning 18 and are days away from submitting a form that will determine the rest of their lives. Though very British in its content, the concept of the fear of university and of the massive life changes that occur as you finish high school is obviously universal and therefore the fringe is a great place to come and share this work with people from around the world. Though unquestionably targeted at a younger audience, many parents will have been through this with their own teens, many adults will remember going through this phase themselves, so this new musical definitely has a prospective audience.
Though I would be lying if I said I remembered any of the songs after the show, they are enjoyable to listen to and see performed throughout and Whitbread has done well to use the songs to effectively progress the plot, rather than, as many new musical works do, stall it.
The set is minimal but no one expects more at a fringe. In fact, I would have personally recommended removing the rotating bollard shaped both with ‘scenes’ set papers sticky taped around. An actor was responsible for flipping this prop between every scene and ultimately it became an unnecessary distraction - I understood where I was because the cast demonstrated it well.
The cast is very good and for such a young Company, there is a lot of talent and promise amongst the very early career group. Camila Crabb-Zambrano comes across as the most seasoned performer of the group with a well executed performance that showed character growth being achieved.
One of the main barriers for me in getting totally engrossed in the script was the lack of significant emotional development throughout. I appreciate that the show takes place across a time span of only 5 days but musicals often play into the fantastical rather than the realistic - this wouldn’t be a first. Characters that started sad, scared, introverted, etc, largely remained quite similar towards the end. That’s not to say that nothing is achieved - far from! Many of the characters find their voice, their independence, their strength and/or their way. I would have liked the actors to go on the same journey to really dig deep and show the emotional growth in each character that comes just from simply completing the task of submitting a form that decides what comes next.
Damien Smith’s performance is very strong, particularly early in the show with some great belts, nicely crafted characterisation and a strong sense of the importance of this work. Though I don’t think Smith yet maintained these qualities throughout the entirety of the show, they were definitely there and strong in the first half and with more experience, Smith, like Crabb-Zambrano and many in the group, will be exciting performers to watch.
Charlie Frampton bursts on and off the stage with great energy for each of her scenes - she is vivacious to watch. Amelia Perry knows how to pull your heart strings and the more she is ignored by her dad, the more my heart breaks. Libby Pratt has some big vocals to show off and she does so extremely well!
Bethan Green offers a really deep and authentic performance as Rowan that makes her stand out amongst the large cast. With a complex storyline to portray, Green has great opportunity to showcase her ability and she grabs this chance with both hands.
With a large production team and more cast members to boot, as mentioned, putting this show on this year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is no small feat. It is not a perfect show but it is a great stepping stone and an exciting opportunity to see how many talented artists are coming up through the ranks. There is lots more to come from the members of this team - I can just sense it.