35mm: A Musical Exhibition at The Other Palace.

35mm is a Musical Exhibition.

I was unsure what to expect from a musical exhibition but soon discovered it was essentially a song cycle. 35mm is written by Ryan Scott Oliver where each song is inspired by a photograph by Matthew Murphy.

35mmThe songs range in theme from High School Prom Queens to being a ‘manny.’ Some numbers are dramatic and tell a complete story where as others are ballads or a snapshot of a relationship.

My favourite numbers both occurred in the latter part of the show. ‘Leave Luanne,’ tells the story of an abusive husband who ends up killing his wife and the finalie, ‘The Ballad Of Sara Berry,’ tells of the lengths a teenage girl will go to in order to win prom queen. The beauty of both of these numbers is that they tell a story, one that leaves me wanting to hear more about that theme, or indeed photograph. These type of numbers were stronger than the more relationship based songs such as ‘On Monday’ and I would have liked to have seen a different balance of styles throughout. One criticism I would have is that due to the variety of photographs the songs were inspired by I struggled to find any link from one number to the next. The songs could have worked just as well in a concert and it therefore felt slightly disjointed.

There was a lot of musical influences within this show, at times it reminded me of ‘Rent,’ at other times, ‘Heathers’ or even ‘Lizzie,’ yet each song was original. The delivery was as different as the influences. Some numbers involving sharp, ensemble choreography and others a much simpler style, each suited to the individual number.

The songs are performed by a cast of 5. Each of them had very different styles. Maisey Baweden had a really soulful voice and Christina Modestou had brilliant story telling skills. The men didn’t quite match up to the women although this was partly due to the material they were given.

The set itself was simple with projections depicting the photograph that inspired that particular number and the back of the stage with empty frames, ready to be filled with these photographs. This worked well in the studio space and allowed the focus to be on the number.

It was an interesting show and concept with some individual story telling highlights but at other times disjointed or uninspiring numbers.

35mm runs at The Other Palace until the 30th September.

If you liked this review you might also like my review of Songs For A New World and Superhero, both directed by Adam Lenson & my article about the Other Palace and the future of British Musical theatre.

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