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Little by Little, Etcetera Theatre Camden – Review

Pros: Beautiful music and singing, hilariously relatable moments.

Cons: A space simply not suited to a musical.

Pros: Beautiful music and singing, hilariously relatable moments. Cons: A space simply not suited to a musical. Little by Little, performed by Three Barks and a Bite theatre company, is a three handed musical about ‘mates, dates and love triangles’. As such it’s hard to see that the story is really doing anything we haven’t seen many times before. The basic plot follows three childhood friends, two girls and one guy, who, stumbling blindly into the confusing world of adolescence, complicate the friendship with sex. Two of the three friends start dating and, inevitably, the one left behind is also in love with…

Summary

Rating

Good

A great fun all singing, all dancing live action rom-com.

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Little by Little, performed by Three Barks and a Bite theatre company, is a three handed musical about ‘mates, dates and love triangles’. As such it’s hard to see that the story is really doing anything we haven’t seen many times before. The basic plot follows three childhood friends, two girls and one guy, who, stumbling blindly into the confusing world of adolescence, complicate the friendship with sex. Two of the three friends start dating and, inevitably, the one left behind is also in love with said boy. So, obviously, nothing new here, added to which the girl left behind is dressed in a classic ‘geek’ uniform of thick-rimmed glasses and a stretchy headband. This, of course, doesn’t necessarily matter; it’s a popular trope because it’s an experience so many of us can relate to.

The story is largely told well, after a ropey start with some questionable attempts to portray children and teenagers (but they are not the first to fall into that trap!) The three performers are clearly very talented, move very comfortably and make intelligent use of the space. Unfortunately, the main failing of the show as a whole is the size of the space. While they use the space they do have creatively and efficiently, it is just too small for the production. By its nature musical theatre needs space. The acting is big, the singing is loud and there are inevitably dance numbers. For these reasons the whole production feels squashed. There isn’t really room on the stage for the dancing and from my position, sitting on the front row, the singing felt very close which left me, at times, feeling a little uncomfortable. Each actor has a clothes rail of costumes at the sides of the stage into which they change during scenes they are not involved in. This is an interesting idea and a clever way of visually illustrating the characters growing and changing. But, again, because of the tightness of the space these changes happen very close to the action, causing a distraction from the focal point of the scene. This is a shame because it’s actually a great fun show full of hilariously ‘cringe-worthy’ moments that we can all relate to. There is something quite nice about a wholly unpretentious, light show, that doesn’t mean to address anything particularly profound or elevated but rather holds up a glass to the audience’s own lives, celebrating the simultaneously hideous and hilarious shared experience of being human.

The performances are largely very strong, if perhaps, a little heightened for the size of the space. The singing is beautiful throughout and some of the harmonies are stunning. An absolute highlight is Samuel Wilson, the musical director, playing exquisitely at the back of the stage for the duration of the show. The three performers have great chemistry with one another, lashings of stage presence and, most importantly, seem to be having enormous fun, which, for an audience is infectious, as was easy to see from the rapturous applause at the show’s end. The writing is excellent – witty, beautifully observed and very sharp. All in all Little by Little is a thoroughly good  night out; light- hearted and great fun as long as you know what you’re going into. It’s a live action rom-com with singing and dancing and it might just fit the bill at 6.30 after a long day at work.

Music: Brad Ross
Lyrics: Ellen Greenfield and Hal Hackady
Book: Annette Jolles and Ellen Greenfield
Director: Matt Strachan
Musical Director: Samuel Wilson
Choreographer: Becky Harrison
Box Office: 02074824857
Booking link: https://www.ticketea.co.uk/tickets-musical-little-by-little/
Booking until: 30 September 2018

About Rachael Sparkes

Rachael Sparkes
Rachael is a young actress who recently finished training at East 15 Acting school. Prior to her masters in acting Rachael studied English Literature at Sussex University. Rachael began reviewing theatre as a way to combine her love of writing with her love of theatre.