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The male gaze: Turning the screw

It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

Racing with the clock: Tick, Tick... Boom! @BHTse20

Watching Tick, Tick... Boom at the Bridge House Theatre, a play about young thirty-somethings in 1990 makes you realise that if they were alive today, they would be becoming sexagenarians. The passing of time and the struggles of being creative in New York are at the heart of this piece. Now it's over to a new generation to sing about about Jonathan Larson's anxieties about creativity, composition and getting older.

It's made all the more bittersweet given the composer (and lead character Jon), Jonathan Larson died in 1996, six years after this piece is set. His death was also just before his show, Rent would open and become a big success.

Tick, Tick... Boom!  was initially conceived as a solo work for Larson after his struggles to mount a show he was developing. After his death, it was reworked into a three-hander which is the version that we see today.

While there are many musical theatre references, particularly to Sondheim, what’s interesting about the show is how it depicts the struggle to be an artist. And this production brings out the essence of the piece.

As the lead character Jon, Alex Lodge conveys all the anxieties and brashness of new up and coming composer, while making him incredibly likable.

As his best friend Michael, James Hume gives a sensitive and revealing portrayal.

There's one number in the piece, Come To Your Senses, that stops the show towards the end. Georgie Ashford, as an actor in Jon's workshop, delivers a thrilling rendition of this.

The small space of the Bridge House Theatre gives the piece a surprising intimacy. It's a simple yet slick design and setup. Usually, this show comes with a rock band too.  But stripping back the musical accompaniment allows the cast to harmonise without additional amplification. And it helps make the characters seem more real.

Directed by Guy Retallack, Artistic Director of Bridge House Theatre, and music direction by Jamie Ross, Tick, Tick... Boom! Is at Bridge House Theatre until 27 October.


Photos by Jamie Scott-Smith

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