BRIGHTON FRINGE: Happily Never After – The Old Market
By: The Maydays
Review: Lela Tredwell
This extraordinary improvised performance must be seen to be believed.
The Maydays co-create a unique piece of musical theater in the style of gothic horror with dark humor and sinister joy. They do this outstanding feat in front of the public eye based on the voluntary suggestion of a spectator of a grandparent’s profession.
‘Jeweler’ is the occupation that inspires the show on that particular night and the exceptionally talented cast intuitively kicks in, creating a rich narrative, complete with sensational improvised musical numbers. With what is a soundtrack to die for – and, by the way, for – genius musician Joe Samuel adds the perfect atmosphere to this genre-bending performance Tim Burton meets Edgar Allen Poe meets The Brother’s Grimm.
Everything is created on location as the entire cast takes equal responsibility for weaving the story. Their stage presence is simply enchanting as they boldly embody their characters, while making the most of the different levels of their stage.
Rhiannon Vivian brings a cursed jewel to life with the perfect blend of magic and menace. The child who befriends the sensitive gem is beautifully directed by Liz Peters. And together, the duo creates several mind-blowing songs.
Superbly comedic scenes are masterfully concocted between the other expert cast members: Katy Schutte, Jenny Rowe and Jon Nguyen. Nguyen’s warlock descendant is very pleasing to the eye, as is the song he starts at the start of the second half about a gold rush. Schutte and Rowe demonstrate sublime comedic timing and fabulous characterization. Schutte’s former jeweler is an absolute delight to behold and wields a wicked sense of humor. As Rowe bursts into laughter from the audience as the child’s unhappy father, as well as a number of possessed family portraits.
This show is non-stop joy from moment to moment. Emotionally touching, incredibly funny, rich in narrative twists and charm. If you want standout performances, sublime musical moments, exhilarating collaborations and lots of laughs, you need look no further than The Maydays. They bring their shimmering light to even the darkest genres.
The Maydays perform at the Brighton Fringe again on May 20 in their impromptu show The Fringe Show.
Reviewed May 8