The first thing to say about I Could Use a Drink is just how gorgeous the setting is. It’s filmed at London’s Fiction Studios, a recording studio lit with lamps, filled with books and musicians positioned in the corners. You can practically smell the lamp-warmed dust!
I Could Use a Drink showcases a mix of musical theatre songs from composer and lyricist Drew Gasparini which were originally recorded in 2013 as a US studio album with Broadway stars. Each performer comes onto the “stage” a number of times throughout the show and each and every one has incredible talent. There are absolutely no weak links when it comes to the vocal abilities on offer, adding character to every song despite the limitations of space, props and costume.
Production values are equally as strong. Sound quality is simply flawless, as you’d expect given that it is in a recording studio, whilst the camera work is sensitively done. It’s of a standard you’d expect in any context, and just shows how the theatre industry has truly embraced high-quality online performances (budget allowing, of course).
Yet despite these incredibly high levels of performance and production, it just felt difficult to fully engage with the show. If you’re not familiar with the show each song come from, or even the context of the show, as I was not, it’s difficult to understand what’s going on. Without that background information it is impossible to empathise with the characters. Had there been a short pre-song re-cap for each, then this could have been a more engaging online experience.
So whilst the talent is extremely watchable, hearing a song about someone planning a shooting and not knowing what happened, or a young girl trying to decide what to do about a teenage pregnancy, without knowing her back story, it is just a little frustrating come the end. You could argue this adds an element of intrigue, wondering whether this song links to the previous one, or what happened next to that character? But as a musical theatre fan, it was a struggle to embrace the show without the “theatre” element of the artform.
Having said all that, it is still an incredibly high-quality show with outstanding performances and voices that will give you goosebumps. Had I been there in person, the performances themselves would probably have been satisfying enough. But watching in my home, when attention can easily wander, I just yearned for a little more substance.
Music & Lyrics by: Drew Gasparini
Directed by: Alex Conder
Musical Direction by: Flynn Sturgeon
Produced by: Alex Conder and Liam Gartland for Gartland Productions
I Could Use A Drink is available to stream until 16 May. Tickets are £12 plus £3 booking fee. Further details and booking via the below button.