27 September 2015
Edges is a musical with which I feel I should share some enduring connection, given attending an amateur production of it was one of the first experiences I had with university life. I recall the production being rather good, inspiring me, even, to get involved with the local university theatre society. However, in the years since then, I remember markedly little from it. How strange, I thought, that a musical that should carry some emotional resonance should have drifted from my memory so easily. It was with these thoughts in mind that I recently attended a new production of Edges, currently showing at the London Theatre Workshop. Leaving the theatre, it became apparent that this curiosity must be primarily due to my own poor memory: Edges—this time by Peak Productions—is a wonderful little musical that is well worth seeing during its limited run.
Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Edges revolves around four twentysomething protagonists, tackling some of the key joys and tribulations of modern life. Relationships, break-ups and self-discovery are hardly novel topics to be delved into by musical theatre, but they are interestingly explored here through a unique modern twist, infused with just the right touch of humour and sincerity that prevents the show from falling into cliché or farce. Edges is, in many ways, reminiscent of Jonathan Larson’s Rent, providing a window into the lives of young people coming to terms with the realities of modernity. If you like these sort of themes, you will likely get much out of Edges and its characters.
Moving along at a brisk pace, Edges is more of a treat for the ears than a woven plot to be unravelled; indeed, there is not much of a discreet plot at all. However, this does not detract from the gripping insight into the characters’ lives, enhanced immeasurably by the brilliant performances of the cast; Lauren Allan, Claudia Kariuki, Robert Woodward and Chris Barton. Working from a certainly challenging score, their powerful voices and spot-on harmonies are mesmerising alongside the (suitably) minimalist set. Though it includes several individual songs and duets, the best moments come when all four come together, producing a powerful harmony that is a testament to the vocal talent of the cast. They certainly have a strong future ahead of them.
Although the songs are very much entertaining and a pleasure to soak in, some might be put off by the aforementioned lack of a substantial plot. The short running time may also raise a few eyebrows among those that see value for money in show length rather than overall quality. However, these are not so much shortcomings as areas that may not suit some preferences. In many ways, the short length and basis on a song cycle actually benefits the production, substituting what could easily turn into tedious dialogue and filler with standout performances.
Edges is, in sum, a hugely entertaining, memorable and insightful foray into the peaks and troughs of modern life. Its outstanding performances are certainly not to be missed. Indeed, you owe it to yourself to sit back and immerse yourself in this excellent production while you can.
Edges is currently showing at the London Theatre Workshop until the 1st October with a special performance at St Paul’s Actor’s Church on 3rd October. Tickets are available HERE.