Pros: Nice food and a live performance are a safe recipe for a lovely night out.
Cons: The unpolished sound quality resulted in some rather painful high notes.
If you rely on Google Maps to find The Pheasantry, don’t panic when you’re given the coordinates of a Pizza Express on King’s Road. You’re in the right place. This live music speakeasy, in fact, is located in the basement of the well-known Italian restaurant, in the heart of Chelsea. The space, with its grand piano sat on a platform among the diners, might look intimate but hides a grandiose past.
Originally built in the eighteenth century by a livestock breeder, it later became a workshop for craftsmen, a studio for sculptors and painters, and a classroom for dance teachers before qualifying as a favourite den for bohemian artists. Transformed into a nightclub in the 1960s, The Pheasantry witnessed the early days of big names like Eric Clapton, Lou Reed and Queen.
For Closer Than Ever, guests were invited to arrive two hours before the beginning of the show, in order to have enough time to choose a good spot around the piano and enjoy a meal. Arriving early was optional though, as service continued discretely throughout the performance, sometimes even crossing paths with the singers who were getting on and off stage.
Presented in the form of a revue, this multi-act show – accompanied by Nick Barstow’s piano and Dough Weekes’ double bass – presented a selection of songs on everlasting themes; friendship, love, future hopes and all the struggles brought about by the bitterness of reality, adulthood and increased responsibilities. After a few warm-up ensemble ballads, the ice was finally broken by Nicholas Corre and Emily Chesterton in “You Wanna Be My Friend”, where a brilliant Chesterton was eager to make a point on the difference between being friends or lovers. The execution had everyone in stitches and set the tone for the following “What am I Doin’?”, in which pretty boy Richard Carson confessed an obsessive crush and stalker-like behaviour.
After a short interval the second act descended into more serious topics, like the endurance of friendships, parenthood, failed relationships and divorce. The four performers delivered some lovely catchy tunes which were sadly spoiled by poor sound quality. The key chosen seemed especially detrimental for Wendy Carr who, struggling to hold back her powerful voice, often had to sing from her throat, which resulted in an underwhelming performance, despite her delightful tone.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a pleasant evening of comedy and nice Italian food, Closer Than Ever is a really good choice that combines both original live music and light entertainment.
Lyricist: Richard Maltby Jr.
Composer: David Shire
Musical Director: Nick Barstow
Choreographer: Alexandra Da Silva
Producer: Neil Eckersley Productions Ltd.
Booking Until: This show has now completed its run.