It was no question that this was a preview show for Vesper Walk as it did leave certain things to be desired. Its relentless spirit, however, and undeniable enthusiasm marks the production as one to watch.
The original songs were indeed the highlight of this production; witty and topical, they picked up on recognisable faux pas and aggravations of the modern age that had an immediate connection with the audience. Having live music with the actors playing instruments on stage added another dimension to this immediacy of connection and created a definite conversational tone. It proved a very successful decision in the sense that it enveloped the audience within the illusion of the piece, however, it did struggle to fill the space sufficiently. With the few instruments that were utilised one found that the music at times lacked body. As a result, moments of impact was swallowed up by the theatre due to the lack of depth. This lack of impact and depth might not have been such an issue if the performances accounted for this.
Performances at the beginning were quite tentative and the space seemed to swamp those on stage. Nonetheless, as the play continued the actors became more confident and comfortable and so with time and with more fine tuning, I am sure this issue can be overcome.
Most notable for her singing voice was Katie Western as Kylie. Barely speaking throughout and only communicating via song, her voice was captivating and was a firm strength of the show. Furthermore, Joanna Huntington as Krystle provided a great deal of humour as she delivered one liners with great ease. The spirit of the play was often found through her character with her unmissable quips such as ‘you’re not so much spice girls as well seasoned women’. She fully embraced the character she was playing and seemed the most relaxed, whereas many of the other performances were too considered and self-aware.
The lighting existed in two states; a cool blue for the everyday dialogue and a dramatic shift to red for the musical interludes. Although this did provide a distinct and palpable change, which aided the audience in understanding the parameters of the play, it was somewhat unimaginative. There was great scope for exciting and dynamic states to push the narrative along, but instead it proved quite repetitive.
The narrative itself was perhaps the downfall of the play. Due to the heavy focus on the music, the piece lacked the character development needed for an audience to invest in the lives and idiosyncrasies of each individual. Consequently, when the stakes got high and the play reached its climax, there was no real care or feeling for the characters on stage. It had the air of a piece that had been thrown together in order to accommodate the music without the necessary attention to the script and direction. However, this is what preview performances are for, and with some development there is definite potential for this piece to have the impact that is desired.
If some of the more obvious and intrinsic elements of each spice girl were inserted more clearly into the respective characters from an earlier point in the performance and then further accentuated, this might have helped an audience to understand the characters in a substantial way.
The performance overall was full of fun and frivolity with moments of pure joy. The shock value of some of the costume changes and unexpected moments aided this feeling and there is no doubt that people surely left feeling better about life. The message that it is never too late to go for your dreams was strong throughout and if some of the more practical elements of this piece was worked on there is huge potential for it to go far.
Vesper Walk are a group of 5-8 musicians/actors performing original theatre and music work. They play their own music at gigs as well as performing full music shows which combine songs with acting, narration and movement.