Pros: Features a cast of budding actors showcasing strong vocals in beautiful musical numbers.
Cons: As the plot goes for shock factor, LoveStuck is unbelievable and as an audience it is hard to be satisfied with the show’s shallow commentary on important social issues.
LoveStuck, a new musical, aims to explore the trials and tribulations of adolescents at university. The show follows main character Charlie, a fresher at fictional London Thames University, and how he deals with not only his new environment but his sexuality. Charlie gains friends in the form of Lily and Jake, arguably the two most endearing and well-developed characters in the show, and struggles to cope with his feelings for second year Ben, as the trio of flatmates face a plethora of other topical issues.
LoveStuck attempts to address issues such as sexuality, drug abuse, rape and teen pregnancy but these are simply skimmed over and no issues are developed intellectually. This is where my disappointment in the show mainly stemmed from. Serious and exciting commentary could be made about all the issues raised by LoveStuck, however it seemed as though they were just thrown in for dramatic effect and shock factor rather than to actually have any profound or insightful points made about them. The way these issues were haphazardly woven into the plot invalidated their use and made the whole show seem like a melodramatic afterschool special. I really wish writer Adam Wollerton had picked one of these plot points and fully explored it because, with so many crazy and unlikely problems occurring at once, it left no room to realistically develop the characters’ relationships and the story, which left some scenes feeling disjointed.
The musical numbers by PJ Nielsen and Jake Few were lovely and very catchy. Lyrically, I felt some songs could have been stronger as the language was at times basic and failed to capture the emotion hoping to be conveyed. Despite this, the songs were sung beautifully by the whole cast and the harmonies were powerful (kudos also must be given to the cast for persevering despite sound mixing issues on this particular night).
The set was simple and worked very well with the Cockpit’s thrust stage configuration. A small platform was raised in the middle of the space and simple things such as moving duvets and boxes denoted the setting for each scene. The lighting really complimented this central platform staging and the large cast drew the audience’s attention to the correct area of the stage. Projections were also shot onto a gauze divider on this central platform and, while I am generally a big fan of projection, the images seemed like ‘clip art’ drawings and distracted more than aided the show, although the device definitely had potential. I loved the way the gauze was also integrated into the performance by doubling as a divider.
With some clever rejigging and a better focus on what message the show wants to convey, I believe LoveStuck could provide important insight into the ways in which young adults tackle their problems away from their family and everything they know. There’s definitely a place for this type of musical but I wish LoveStuck had been more focused and polished.
Author: Adam Wollerton
Producer: Curious Tales Theatre
Composer: PJ Nielsen and Jake Few
Lyricist: PJ Nielsen
Box Office: 020 7258 2925
Booking Link: http://thecockpit.org.uk/show/lovestuck_a_new_musical
Booking Until: 30 July 2017