The Vaults, London – until 4 August 2019
Reviewed by Prachya van de Gevel
What do you get if you cross Romeo and Juliet, High School Musical, Glee, Sister Act 2 and Cruel Intentions? Yes Bare – a Pop Opera embodies a lot of these into one opera musical.
The story tells of the lives of a senior class in their final term at their Catholic Boarding School, as they traverse, exploring their sexuality, drug usage and their feelings of loneliness and their confessions of their sins. Our star crossed lovers Jason (Darragh Cowley) and Peter (Daniel Mack Shand) do the majority of the heavy lifting, they feature in almost every one of the 36 numbers in this theatrical piece.
I really enjoyed watching them both perform in their roles, one the high school jock , handsome, popular and yet mysterious with a secret, Whilst Peter is the polar opposite, he is knows who he is but struggles to accept his sexuality as in the eyes of God he doesn’t know where he stands, but he is ready to proclaim his love for Jason and shout it from the rooftops! Their voices work extremely well together and there is real chemistry between them, from the offside glances and the scenes of a sexual nature! The school is preparing for their upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet and this theme and scenes from the iconic play. Enter our leading lady Ivy (Lizzie Emery) the popular girl with all the guys if you know what I mean… her promiscuity means I don’t have too much empathy for her character, and I felt her performance needed a little more emotion from it and every scene she was upstaged by Nadia (Georgie Lovatt) who in my opinion was a standout in the show, her songs and one liners made me think about the show on the way home and got the audience the most laughs, she has a brief scene involving self harm that I feel could have been explored deeper but maybe due to the long running of the show it was shortened, for me she is one to watch in the future!
The cast member that got the most appreciation was Sister Chantelle (Stacy Francis) her portrayal of Sister Diva/Beyonce comin atcha with all the attitude and swagger and acceptance really brought the house down! On the flip side Claire (Jo Napthine) playing Peter’s mother had me thinking of my own history and relationship with my mother, scary how accurate and real some of her scenes became for me.
The main cast is rounded out by Tom Hier in the role of Matt, the jealous always in 2nd place behind Jason of the show his portrayal was very well done and created many scenes of tensions throughout the show
The rest of the cast with the exception of the school drug dealer Lucas (Bradley Connor) kinda faded into the background, not because they had bad performances but because they were outshone by the main cast members!
They were integral to scenes and set changes and wow can this cast perform. For many of them this is an early roles for them and in some ways that shows, but overall I think that I would really like to see this show again however a seat further back to take in the full stage without my neck going back and forward between different sides of the set! I felt sitting too close did not give me a full view of the stage.
The songs are catchy and the themes of the play are very poignant especially as we celebrate pride month. I say go see this pop opera for the music the story and the energy of the cast and team on this high energy production. I look forward to seeing more of this cast again and I am sure I will be seeing the show again before it closes!