What's Wrong With Me? - Lion and Unicorn Theatre
A new comedy musical arrives at the Camden Fringe
Welcome to the What’s Wrong With Me Retreat, a place where all your problems can be dissected and dissipated. Please check in your emotional baggage at the front desk. Five strangers arrive, each with their distinct first-world woes, ready to be guided to calmer water by their dubiously qualified leader, Osmond. As their problems unravel and realisations hit home, will the group leave with a new and improved outlook on life?
With a book written by Jess Coppen-Gardner and music from Rosalyn Miller (lyrics by both), What’s Wrong With Me is a witty and charming insight into modern dilemmas. Though packed full of humour, quick asides and sympathetic characters, it does struggle to deliver deeper wisdom during its hour-long runtime. Nestled in the production are some topical and very real issues worthy of exploration but there is little time to delve into the detail, leaving some characters and ideas a little two-dimensional.
There are some excellent comedic songs in this musical, a particular highlight being ‘Teach Me How to Downward Dog,’ sung impressively by Stephanie Callow whilst, you guessed it, doing yoga. Tom White sings a tender song about being trapped in the closet, whilst actually trapped in a closet - accompanied by some marvellous dancing jackets of course. However, many numbers had serious issues with volume levels, noticeably in the first half, meaning that despite being only three rows back, there were moments I could not hear the actors' voices - hopefully this can be resolved for the remaining performances.
Blah Blah Productions have assembled a strong cast for this production, with a stand-out performance from previously mentioned Stephanie Callow as sex-addict Karen. Her comedic timing and charisma helping her to momentarily steal any scene that she is a part of. Annie Gibbons does a sterling job as Cressida, who spends more time talking to plants than she does people (don’t blame her to be honest). Her plant-based ballad is simply divine. Ben Hannigan and Izzy Winter also do well as Paul and Jasmine respectively, as do Tom White and Adrian Relph as Andy and Osmond. As an ensemble, they work effectively together, particularly in the rousing, concluding number and in the song ‘Set Fire To The Fear’.
Although this is a comedy musical, it never quite grasps the gravity of the characters' troubles and therefore cannot deliver any meaningful impact beyond quick-witted lines and lyrics. There is a huge amount of potential in this production and with some revisions and refocussing, there is scope to stage something equally as fun but also opportunities to develop characters an audience can truly get behind and root for, growing them to be more than amusing stereotypes. For now, there are top-quality individual performances and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments worthy of the trip to Camden by themselves.
It runs until 6 August as part of the Camden Fringe
Tickets available here