The Little Big Things is a new British musical based on the memoir by Henry Fraser, who suffered a life-changing accident back in 2009 whilst on holiday with his brothers. The show follows his journey of coming to terms with how his life now needed to adapt and the impact the accident had on his family. Rather than the trauma being the sole focus of the show, this uplifting musical is 'life-affirming', and brings the much-needed positive representation of disability onto stage.
The audience is welcomed by Colin Richmond's simplistic but beautiful set design, which is vibrancy is complimented by the interactive feel of Howard Hudson's lighting. When characters are introduced by Henry, there is a comic-book nature to their entrances – which highlights the playfulness of the seventeen-year-old's mind. There is a warmth on stage when we are introduced to the Fraser family, and their strong bond and love is portrayed effortlessly within the first few minutes.
As the show moves forward, often narrated by Henry himself, we learn that the leading character is being played by two individuals; Henry before his accident (Jonny Amies) and Henry after his accident (Ed Larkin). This simple but clever device created in Joe White's writing allows the audience to see the battle Henry has with his own mind, struggling to relive the accident, and reluctant to move forward with his new and adapted lifestyle.
One of the other highlights of White's writing is the character of Agnes, Henry's Physiotherapist, who is brilliantly portrayed by Amy Trigg. This hilarious and bold woman enters Henry's life whilst in hospital, helping him to adapt to living life as a tetraplegic. Also wheelchair user, Agnes does not sugar-coat any situation, but also doesn't allow anyone to see the word 'disabled' as a 'swear word'. Trigg's performance is consistently truthful, heart-warming, and at times hilarious with perfectly timed comedic relief.
In the second act, we start to see Henry accept his new way of life. His father, played by Alasdair Harvey, creates a pen which Henry can hold with his mouth to try and encourage Henry to draw again. This unlocks something in Henry, and we see his character develop and come to terms with accepting that Henry before the accident doesn't always need to be in the room, reminding him of all the things he used to do - rather than all the things he can do now. As the two Henrys get harnesses attached to them, we see them rise above the ground in a beautiful scene of playfulness, vibrancy, and freedom.
At the curtain call, there is a full standing ovation, with not many dry eyes in the house. This story is one of such overwhelming joy and love that has clearly touched many individuals in the audience. It is a musical full of colour, strength, and love, and I feel that this is only the beginning of this musical's exciting journey.
It runs until 25 November. Tickets from £36: here.
Review: Anna Hulm Photo: Pamela Raith