Tick Tick Boom at Bridge House Theatre

Tick Tick Boom by Jonathan Larson tells of Jon, who is counting down the impending doom to his 30th birthday. He is searching for that all important event, the moment when his work gets signed so he can feel like he has achieved something. During this countdown we meet his girlfriend Susan who wants to move out of New York and his childhood friend Michael, who has left acting behind and works in market research, or as Jon puts it, has sold out.

Tick Tick Boom is told by a cast of 3 and therefore all 3 need to be a force to be reckoned with. Whilst Jon barely leaves the stage, the actors playing Susan and Michael take on numerous other roles such as Jon’s agent Rosa Steven’s, Jon’s dad, the star of the show Jon is writing – Karessa and many more.

Alex Lodge plays Jon, slightly skittish and a bundle of energy on the stage. He does not always make Jon’s journey one that is easy to watch but perhaps that is due to the fact that Larson is so good at holding a mirror up to society that we recognise some of our own preoccupations in Lodge’s portray of Jon, and in this fringe space there is no where to hide.

Susan is played by Georgie Ashford who gets the audience on her side early on with her easy manner. It is however the show-stopping number that she performs as Karessa, ‘Come to Your Senses,’ that really shows off Ashford’s powerful voice.

James Hume takes on the role of Michael. His calm portrayal of Michael contrasted nicely against Lodge’s skittish portrayal of Jon and they compliment each other on stage. Both Ashford and Hume switch between roles well and just use body language to portray their different characters. On occasion the contrast could have been bigger but that is more a directorial choice as I didn’t have a problem following when character switching took place.

Between the three of the cast members their voices blend well and numbers such as ’30/90′ and ‘Louder than Words’ are highlights of the show due to some strong harmonies delivered by the cast.

The playing space at the Bridge House Theatre limits what can be done set and movement wise but it meant that the show was slick and the message of the simple story was kept to the fore and not lost in trappings. The show itself has little story line and there are developments near the end of the show that interest me but are left unexplored. Due to this simple story line at times the piece can drag and can feel like some of the numbers do little to move the action on, for example ‘Sugar.’ There are also funny, observational moments such as ‘Sunday’ which are witty but again do not develop character or the story.

The music is simply accompanied by an offstage keyboard, played by the Musical Director Jamie Ross but the sound was well balanced and the transitions between Jon playing and Ross playing were nicely managed. Most importantly though the show has retained what feels like an authentic musical theatre rock vibe, even with just keys, which is testament to Lodge’s vocals.

Tick Tick Boom at Bridge House Theatre feels like a show that has kept true to it’s roots, a cast with really solid vocals and a rocky edge to their tone even if the story itself fails to excite.

Tick Tick Boom is playing at the Bridge House Theatre until 27th October. For more information and tickets go to their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Come From Away, Six and the latest tour of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

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