Next Thing You Know, presented by Sedos, The City of London’s premier amateur theatre company, is currently inhabiting the Bridewell Theatre in Blackfriars. Waverley, Luke, Darren and Lisa are four New Yorkers making the transition from their twenties to their thirties, and having a few bittersweet realisations on the way. In song. Because, yes. NTYK is a musical!
The Bridewell Theatre is by no means huge, but the company utilise the hell out of the space. The stage is transformed into Sully’s dive bar, where most of the action is set; to get to the auditorium you must enter through the door of Sully’s, straight into a mess of bar stools, darts players (watch out for those, kids, I didn’t) and a mash up of punters enjoying the weak booze. Kudos to the actors who don’t get a minute to unwind, pulling pints behind the bar pre-show and during the interval. That’s dedication right there, and imaginative use of the set. After all, why waste a perfectly good dive bar. However, it is cash only, so be prepared for that when you attend.
The set changes are smooth and effective, a chunk of the bar becoming an office by turning one wall around and sliding in a desk. And pretty much everyone in the audience, myself included, spluttered ‘holy sh*t,’ the moment what had appeared to be a simple brick wall facade above the bar slid down to reveal an upper storey flat above, with a staircase to one side of Sully’s leading up to the flat. The set design is a delight to behold. Colour me well impressed.
The multi-talented ensemble perform the songs with pizzazz and all the energy of youth that the characters feel draining out of them. NTYK is about the punch in the face that is adulthood sneaking up on you, as you struggle to keep it at bay by clinging to things the way they are, despite knowing that to hang onto the past can only be reductive. But it’s oh so tempting. Bittersweet stuff, and not a common theme, so my hat is tipped.
My only niggles with the show are the sound, which needs better balancing in the space, as the actors’ singing is not always audible above the music, and the lack of character development. The main characters are mostly different at the end from how they are at the start, having made decisions that move them in new directions, but not for any real reasons that I could discern. The characters simply have a realisation, and react, which left me with a sense of blandness afterwards, despite having liked it overall. A bit like watching the family film on a Sunday afternoon, albeit with a bit of nooky thrown in.
Sedos have a reputation for delivering West End quality in every production, and it certainly shows here. The work that has gone into the show is visible in every second, from the slick set changes, to the choreography, to the songs, Sedos pull out all the stops to present a fantastically designed, well performed evening’s entertainment with a few kooky interactive elements thrown in.
Directed by: Dan Saunders
Produced by: Natalie Harding-Moore
Set realisation: Andrew Laidlaw
Music by: Joshua Salzman
Lyrics by: Ryan Cunningham
Booking Until: 9th March 2019
Booking Link: https://www.ents24.com/london-events/bridewell-theatre/next-thing-you-know/5406881