Give My Love to Molly, an original folk-inspired musical, debuts with the grandest of openings at the Drama Barn this Thursday. Prior to its premiere, Unknown Magazine asked its principal creator Alex Lansdale for her inspirations and intentions with this brand new addition to the British musical genre.
Folk music, by definition, is not a style of music that can be written by a composer. The music must be created by ‘the people’ and subsequently passed down years and years of generations, each altering the melodies in their own way. It is a sound that is authentic of a location and embodies the feelings and emotions of its singers and creators. Often, the songs themselves are full narratives and tell a story; complete with a beginning, middle and end.
It struck me, then: why is folk music, the emotional and evocative story-telling device that it is, rarely used in musical theatre? This isn’t to say that it is never employed in theatre. We often adopt sea shanties and anthems to ornament plays – because it works well. It highlights and emphasises rural aesthetics, archaic themes and even hints at geographical locations. But why not push it further? Why not fully merge traditional British music with musical theatre and form a musical immersed in, and defined by, the genre?
Of course, if we think of musical theatre, our mind naturally casts back to the showstoppers, the best-sellers, the Miss Saigon‘s and Okhlahoma!‘s of this world. And the thought is ludicrous – how could a small eight piece band and someone reminiscing in song make an impact akin to the rising sun, huge animals and pride rock of The Lion King? But, in a society where we push theatre to its boundaries in several different directions to measure its impact on an audience on a regular basis, pairing the theatrical form with this musical style doesn’t seem ludicrous at all.
On reading into the matter, many sources will tell you that folk music must remain authentic – ‘as it is’ – and will inevitably die as society progresses and has less of a need for it. However, others will tell you that it evolves, and continues to do so with each generation, remaining very much alive. With either of these views in mind, it seems appropriate to piece the musical style with theatre, allowing the theatre form and genre to evolve together to bring it into today’s society.
As a genre that is reminiscent of and harks back to the ‘glorious days of yesteryear’, it feels very appropriate for ‘Give My Love to Molly’: the musical follows a landlady remembering her memories of over two decades ago. Throughout, she recalls life as it was on the brink of the Great War, and the subsequent impacts it had upon herself and her friends.
A hundred years on, the production aims to show the personal effects of a huge political event on a personal level. It seems that often, when we look back into the statistics of such times, it’s easier to see numbers as opposed to the faces behind each figure. The truth is, there were faces, favourite colours, best friends, lovers, embarrassing moments, secrets, fears, hopes and wishes. Molly aims to remind us that each number had a unique and complex life as a true and multi-faceted individual.
Give My Love to Molly by Alex Lansdale, performing at the Drama Barn at 7:30pm, every night this week from Thursday. Tickets available on the door and online (£4/5).