The Distance You Have Come – A Song Cycle By Scott Alan
The Distance You Have Come – A Song Cycle By Scott Alan at Cockpit Theatre
I’ve been a fan of Scott Alan for a while having listened to many of his songs on repeat so when offered the chance to review his new song cycle, The Distance You Have Come, I jumped at it.
The Distance You Have Come focuses on relationships in their many guises. Mostly romantic although there is a fleeting look at child abuse as well as the relationship between alcohol and the alcoholic as well as the love between parent and child. There is a loose story throughout as we watch Brian (Andy Coxon) and Samuel (Adrian Hansel) meet and fall in love, Anna (Jodie Jacobs) has her first lesbian relationship with Laura (Alexia Khadime), Maisy (Emma Hatton) fights for her big break and Joe (Dean John-Wilson) deals with his relationship breakup and troubled past by turning to drink.
Whilst the songs individually are beautifully sung and acted they feel shoehorned together in this song cycle. There is very little space for them all to breathe and for characters to shine. Some songs make little sense in the context of the show and how they fit the character delivering them. For example Anna went from musing over her breakup into wondering about the name of the guy she had just met in what felt like moments. There were a few lighter moments which were a welcome relief, in particular ‘Just A Walk’ sung by Dean John-Wilson and Jodie Jacobs where Jacobs got to demonstrate her impeccable comedy timing.
The delivery of all of the numbers however is faultless from all of the cast and this line up would make any director green with envy. Quicksand delivered by Dean John-Wilson was an incredibly powerful moment and superbly acted by him although once again I found it difficult to place contextually in the show. Coxon and Hansel were also particularly endearing together
Many of the numbers will be familiar with regular musical theatre cabaret attendees so it was wonderful to hear a new take on some of these songs. ‘Kiss the Air’ sung by Khadime had a more soulful feel to it than I had previously heard and to hear Hatton sing ‘I’m a Star’ proved that she was just that!
The show was set simply, in the found with a canopy of leaves across the celling and a swing hanging down. Whilst the set was undeniably beautiful, it gave the show a whimsical feel which was often at odds with some of the heavier undertones of the piece.
The arrangements by Scott Morgan for The Distance You Have Come Were kept simple with just a piano and violin accompanying the singers and this allowed us to focus on the talent of those in front of us and the beautiful melodies Alan often creates.
Alan is clearly a gifted songwriter but he still needs to be able to weave a stronger narrative throughout his songs to write a successful song cycle or even, eventually a musical.
The Distance You Have Come is on at the Cockpit Theatre until 28th October. To find out more visit their website.