FOR YOU I’D WAIT
Book, music and lyrics by Sophie Golby and Thomas West
Directed by Samantha Pears and Elsa Strachan
Union Theatre – until 18 June 2022
This is clearly a labour of love: a tuneful, heartfelt response to an unfathomable atrocity. The terrorist attacks on Paris that took place on 13th November 2015 unleashed a tsunami of responses around the globe: anger, fear, disbelief, utter horror. Sophie Golby and Thomas West’s thoughtful chamber musical looks at the impact of the events on six regular young people, and the way it reacts on their lives and relationships.
One of the show’s most laudable achievements is that it never trivialises an appalling moment in modern history, the shock waves from which are still being felt to this day. Golby and West have produced a series of beautifully crafted songs in the soft rock genre, and they successfully illuminate character and drive the story forward. There are some really memorable tunes, and, although often pretty melancholy, which was inevitable given the subject matter, the numbers stay just the right side of mawkish. The incisive, intelligent lyrics help immeasurably with that, and it doesn’t hurt that all six cast members, many of whom are making their professional debuts, have terrific voices.
Thomas West and Jenna Dyckhoff’s orchestrations are gorgeous (when’s the last time we heard a Tenor Horn in a musical band?!) and sound appropriately stirring in the Union’s small space, but never become overwhelming. Samantha Pears and Elsa Strachan’s direction intelligently puts the excellent cast front and centre and allows the material to speak for itself. There is an emotional simplicity to the staging and performances that is very engaging and ultimately becomes truly moving. I also loved the agreeably grungy look of the whole thing.
Gemma Pearce and Billie Kerr are impressive as a spiky young couple, and Michael Karl-Lewis and Amy Leek (alternating with Olivia Walker-Toward) find real emotional colours and intensity in their roles. Charlotte Hannan and Jerome Lincoln complete a fine cast as a pair of newcomers to the City of Light. The singing throughout is fabulous.
As a whole, For You I’d Wait still has the slight feel of being a work in progress, but it’s open-hearted naivety is part of it’s undeniable charm, as is it’s willingness to confront raw feelings head on. It is also massively encouraging to encounter such fresh, exciting talent. This is quite an achievement.