Just opened at the Park Theatre is brand new British musical This Little Life of Mine. A love story set in very recognisable scenes of modern London, it follows Izzy & Jonesy as they try to work out what their ideal life should look like.
Having been a couple for a while, thoughts have turned to their long-term future: Jonesy finds them a small (but zone 2) flat, while Izzy longs to start a family. It seems like everything is about to fall into place when they are struck by tragedy, and find themselves wondering whether they are on the right track after all. Though peppered with light-hearted moments, this show is actually a lot darker than you might initially expect.
Written & directed by Michael Yale (co-founder of Stage Traffic Productions with producer, Eilene Davidson), This Little Life of Mine has a clear central storyline that doesn’t shy away from realism to try & manufacture a happy ending. It does mean that the end perhaps doesn’t leave you feeling as satisfied as some shows, but I admire the vision & the attempt to try something a bit different. This is all helped along by Charlie Round-Turner’s score – particularly the more emotional sections, where Izzy singing really allows her soul to be laid bare. And with the stripped-back accompaniment of piano & cello (Thomas Duchan & Daisy Heath) it allows the content to shine.
The intimate setting of Park90 is ideal for depicting a zone 2 flat – depressingly it’s probably quite a true-to-life size! With a simple colour scheme and furniture that can easily be used for multiple locations in the story (for example, the flat’s breakfast bar is moved 90 degrees to become a coffee shop & a bar), Zahra Mansouri’s design is to be applauded.
Caroline Deverill has fantastic stage presence and brings considerable humour to the fore in many of her various guises. She has a considerable amount of characters to get her teeth into, but thanks to a slight change in costume & a subtle difference in style you’re never in doubt as to who she is at any given time.
Kate Batter & James Robinson make an entirely believable stage couple as Izzy & Jonesy, showing great chemistry & a natural ease around each other. Batter has a stunning voice that is well suited to the score, as well as an ability to keep the audience on her side even when Izzy starts to become quite desperate & single-minded. Robinson portrays Jonesy as the more pragmatic of the couple, and allows you to see & understand his arguments at the same time as feeling for Izzy’s plight.
Greg Barnett, in particular as barista & bartender Raphael, delivers some of the big highlights of the show. His main goal is to inject some comedy into proceedings, which he does with consummate ease – capturing the swagger of swinging city boy Dom & the laddishness of Jonesy’s friend Steve. Barnett’s real standout moment comes with Just One More, as Raphael tempts Tina & Jonesy into drink after drink in the catchiest song of the night.
My verdict? An entertaining yet thought-provoking new musical featuring some instantly memorable elements – the most true-to-life show on stage at the moment.
This Little Life Of Mine runs at the Park Theatre (Park90) until 29 October 2016. Tickets are available online and from the box office.