‘High Fidelity’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by March 17, 2016

‘High Fidelity’ is a play about youngsters’ relationships, and was written by David Lindsay-Abaire based on Nick Hornby’s hilarious book. The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Tom Kitt composed the ‘uninteresting’ music, with the fascinating and quirky lyrics added by Amanda Green.

Although I may be known for being politically incorrect at times, I still found the amount of coarse language and some of the themes of this ‘fun’ rock opera unnecessarily objectionable. I would suggest 14+ as an advised age group.

In 2000, ‘High Fidelity’ was also adapted by Stephen Frear into the hilarious, top box office family film.

This 150-minute show can be seen at the octogenarian Roleystone Theatre, 587 Brookton Hwy, Roleystone on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00 until 19th March, with one matinée at 4.00 pm on Sunday 13th March.

 

The front half of the stage was Rob’s home, with settee, foldaway bed and shelves of LPs. When the mid-stage screen was rolled up (flies by Ruby Higgins), there was a busy, specialist record store (clever designed by James Earnshaw, with excellent props Kathryn Ramsell) revealed.

The flowery shirts, vinyl skirts and unusual hairdos (Genevieve Brown) beautifully captured the 1980s atmosphere.

Montanna Tickner’s colourful and lively lighting design was well thought-out (rigged by Simon Walters). Cassidy Bodenham and Catherine O’Donoghue carried out the smooth stage management.

The lively and at times quite complex choreography was conceived by Kristen Twynam-Perkins and Emily Botje. It was enthusiastically performed by the cast.

Ethan Walters conducted the live, but hidden orchestra, comprising Liam Gobbert, Vlad Sturdy, Liam Richer, Paul Marion, Megan Pedlar, Krispin Maesalu and Emma Mondy. Dylan Shelton and Paul Marion were in charge of the sound. Although the live band was well-balanced, the overall sound balance between band and performer was a little off, with some of the dialogue lost to the accompaniment. Rob wore a headset, which helped, but perhaps a headset is required for every singer with live music, so the audience can appreciate the clever lyrics.

 

     Rob (David Wallace – well done), runs a specialist record store, the ‘Championship Vinyl’, with his assistant Barry (Richard Maganga) – a bandleader who is into weird music – and the nervous, slightly dim, Dick (Kyle Kash). Rob is getting fed up with the business as he spends hours dealing with strange nerds like ‘TMPMITW’ (Jake Tolich) – no one knows his real name – and the odd, unfashionable, middle-aged man (Paul Treasure) who is requesting a tasteless Celine Dion record for his daughter. Rob’s depression eventually reflects on his attitude to his loving partner, lawyer Laura (Caroline Perks).

     Laura, partly on the advice of her outspoken friend Liz (Kimberley Harris – excellent) leaves Rob to live with tantric-loving Ian (Luke Daly). Meanwhile in the shop, Dick has been spotted by attractive Anna (Molly Earnshaw), who is now trying every trick in the book to capture his heart.

     Rob feels alone, so goes to the local bar where he reminisces on some of his old loves, Charlie (Alyssa Burton), Alison (Emily Botje) and finally Sarah (Natalie Cox) who he drove to lesbianism. On the pub stage, the roadie (Caelan Steedman) and the sound engineer (Tyler Eldridge) have set up the microphones for the evening’s star act, Marie La Salle (Allison Harrison).

       Is there any love left in the world today? Or is there only heartbreak?

 

This is the type of play where everyone in the cast got their 5 minutes of stardom. Without exception, every singer performed mellifluously and some great singing. From the soft tones of Laura’s distress, to the powerful ‘belters’ by Liz. Dick sang a couple of songs with his shy approach; deliberately sounding a little like Kermit, he brought a smile to the audience’s faces. Paul Treasure and Jake Tolich provided a whiff of fame to the show, with quality, instantly recognisable, impersonations.

Director Kristen Twynam-Perkins, who won the ‘best musical of the year’ award for the rock opera ‘Bare’, has done another wonderful job with this musical. Faced with a poor script and mediocre story-thread, she has still managed to pump life and interest into the performance.

It is a little sad when you see so much skill and enthusiasm being put into a show, which is doomed from the beginning to being unremarkable.

The whole cast and team can be proud of their efforts, they gave their all.