Seize The Cheese at New Wimbledon Studio
Seize The Cheese is a new British musical which focuses on the cheese rolling festival in Gloucestershire. We meet the keeper of the cheese who has magic vested in her by the cheese spirits and she introduces us to several of the participants, Ian the inventor who has invented a safety suit, Jake and his wife Susan who are having fertility problems, Phobia Phil who is scared not only of throwing himself off the hill after the cheese but of life itself, Jasmine who is trying to get out of the shadow of her mum through her girlfriend, Rose’s help and finally Leila and Arthur who have just progressed from friend zone. Each character believes that by seizing the cheese at the end it will help them resolve their inner conflict.
The structure of the show is one that the keeper of the cheese uses her powers to show the audience and the other participants snippets of what lead people to throwing themselves off a hill after the cheese. The issues with this structure are numerous. Firstly due to the sheer number of characters the audience don’t get much time to build a bond with any of them. Instead they are faced with very short snippets trying to deal with bigger problems than the time allows. Additionally the structure feels a bit forced and at one point the Keeper of the Cheese steps forward to explain that we have gone back in time. Explanations like this should not be needed, especially as the device is used so regularly within the show. Seize The Cheese also seems to be unsure as to its own genre. Whilst it is clearly bonkers at times the script doesn’t reflect this and is overly earnest.
The music is by Patrick Steed and needs more variety within the show. Many of the songs are indistinguishable from the other although a highlight is the moment that the cheese himself develops a voice, Michael Buble style. Whilst this song doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the show it is memorable, the acting perfectly over the top and the movement stylised, which is the type of thing that needs to continue throughout the show. There were also songs that I was unsure as to their purpose, they failed to move the plot along or give us a chance to get to know any of the characters further, such as ‘Nother Body Bites The Dust,’ where some of the cast arrive to remove the bodies of those that are injured during the competition.
The cast themselves are talented although from Cathy McManamon, ‘The Keeper’ I would have liked to have seen more conviction in her performance. The show revolves around her narration so she needs to set the anarchic bar high which she failed to do, meaning that much of her magic felt awkward to watch. The cast, including McManamon were not mic’ed. In a studio space this shouldn’t be a problem however we do looks chunks of dialogue, either from poor diction or lack of projection over the band.
Whilst the concept of Seize The Cheese could show promise it needs work to really land, a focus on the structure and a chance to invest in the characters more by removing some unnecessary songs would really assist this new musical.
Seize The Cheese is on at New Wimbledon Studio theatre until the 11th November. You can find out more here.