Following its debut at The Cockpit Theatre back in 2018, Scott Alan’s collection of songs is now billed with familiar West End talent and presented at the ever glorious Apollo Theatre. The set-up is fairly stripped back; four beautiful standing lamps courtesy of Andrew Ellis’ lighting and Scott Daw’s set design, in front of which stand six not so beautiful IKEA stools (trust me, you know the ones).
Our six leads are split into three couples, each at a different stage of their relationship. Adrian Hansel and Andy Coxon play a pair in their honeymoon period, Alice Fearn and Maiya Quansah-Breed struggle with the breakdown of a long-term love, whilst Dean John-Wilson and Emma Hatton serve separation and unfinished endings. As expected from this stellar cast, the song cycle is vocally immaculate, and the onstage three-piece orchestra provide stunning accompaniment. Yet, with all its frills and flamboyance, the music feels somewhat monotonous. It was strange to me that during a show about change and development the music never quite managed to match, and though beautiful in both composition and performance, the distance we had come didn’t feel musically represented.
Though mainly perceived as a heartaching tale of growing apart before growing individually, The Distance You Have Come is interspersed with some cracking one-liners and moments of laughter and joy. A particular sense of relief is felt whenever Fearn walks on stage – whether this be dressed as a sexy Santa or in those wonderful wide-legged trousers. She manages to portray an honest sense of humour, forged from an alternate way of dealing with grief. This shift in directorial choice provides great contrast from the previously seen laments and makes her character far more engaging. A polar choice I wasn’t so fond of were the big red arrows above John-Wilson’s character that scream to the audience ‘look this man is an alcoholic’. I found it comical when he staggered onto stage in the typical trench coat, swigging from an entire litre bottle of Absolut vodka, rather than feeling the pity I’m sure was the intended response. It seems clarity of character is important to the creatives in this production but personally I prefer more subtle hints; the audience is smarter than you think.
The Distance You Have Come is an enjoyable showcase of talent and composition and though I felt it fell flat in places, I believe it worth seeing for John-Wilson’s vocal runs alone. There’s bags of talent here and some delightful melodies narrating a year long journey of love, loss and reconciliation.
Book, Music and Lyrics by: Scott Alan
Musical arrangements & Direction by: Scott Hayes
Directed by: Kirk Jameson
Set & Costume Design by: Simon Daw
Lighting Design by: Andrew Ellis