Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to review a brand new show called Muted, which is currently on at the Bunker Theatre in Southwark. I am someone who doesn't turn much down in terms of reviewing - I review everything from fringe shows with an audience of 30, to the biggest shows the West End has to offer, like Aladdin and The Bodyguard - so when I get invited to new things, I never really know what to expect!
The Bunker Theatre, for a start, is a ridiculously cool new venue right next to (or should I say, underneath!) the Menier Chocolate Factory, currently home to a production of She Loves Me. If I remember correctly, it actually used to be a car park, and has now been converted into a funky Off-West End theatre - pretty cool, huh?
Before I move onto talking about the show itself, I just want to mention the set - I'm not sure who designed it, but they deserve as much recognition as the cast, because the set was as much a part of the show as the characters. Allow me to explain - they used what my GCSE drama filled brain wants to call an 'end stage', (though I'm potentially wrong) and a central square hole was filled with water, with a small 'island' in the middle, big enough for a couple of people to sit on. Behind this was a swing (just, you know, because why not) and on the black brick wall behind that was a white light triangle. I hope that makes sense! It's the most creative set I've seen in a long time, and when anyone's asked me about the show since, all I've been able to say is "They had water on the stage! Water! On a stage!" - needless to say that was one of my favourite things! I absolutely loved the way it enhanced the already fantastic acting by splashing when people got angry and stamped, or when characters flicked it around with their hands - being on the front row, I felt like I was sitting in the splash zone during 'Strong Without You'!
The music in Muted (by Tim Prottey-Jones and Tori Allen-Martin) was absolutely beautiful - a weird kind of beautiful, but definitely beautiful all the same. The orchestra (well, band) were on a raised bit to our left, and I have genuinely never seen the musicians in a show have so much fun - they were all smiling all the way through! I suppose that means they're enjoying their jobs, which is nice to see!
One of the best things about the show was the cast (Tori Allen-Martin, Edd Campbell Bird, David Leopold, Jos Slovick, Helen Hobson and Mark Hawkins). I am entirely dumbfounded as to how Tori Allen-Martin brought so much sass and emotion to one character - she acted as if she was performing to an audience of thousands, and the result was fantastic! Edd Campbell Bird made a fantastic teenage Michael, and had an absolutely outstanding voice ('I'm Growing' was particularly nice, and was that one song I was humming for a few days afterwards!). The one cast member, however, who blew me away more than any other, was David Leopold. As someone who wants to go into acting, this was a real lesson for me in acting with your face rather than your voice (because, naturally, in a show called 'Muted', it kind of figures that the main character won't speak for most of the show) and it is still beyond me as to how he actually managed to portray so much emotional turmoil using just his face and body language.
If you, like me, like comparing shows to each other, and knowing what's similar to what, then you'll be interested to know that, in my eyes, Muted is sort of like a combination of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time*, Rent, and Exposure (which, yes, is an obscure musical that was at the St James Theatre over the summer - if you saw both Muted and Exposure, you'll know exactly what I'm on about.)
I hadn't seen an Off West End or Fringe show or anything along those lines for months until I saw Muted, and it really re-ignited my love for them. I can't wait to see where this cast go next, and I can't wait to see what both Tim Prottey-Jones and Tori Allen-Martin do next, too!
Muted closes on Saturday 7th January, so get yourself down to the Bunker Theatre this week if you want to experience a truly unique piece of theatre!
*I actually think David Leopold would make a fantastic Christopher if it wasn't closing so soon!