Based on the book High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby, this new musical sets out to be an immersive event. With beanbags and sofas, in addition to regular seating, it aims to welcome audience members into a 'frat lad pad' to join Rob, a hapless thirty-something owner of a London record shop who’s mastered the art of finding rare vinyl and losing girlfriends. Focusing on Rob and his, often chaotic albeit brief, past relationships this musical features original music by Tom Kitt and Amanda Green and a book by David Lindsay-Abaire.
High Fidelity is a quirky, modern musical. Perfect for one of London's newest theatres. Underneath the railway arches at the iconic Battersea Power Station, The Turbine Theatre plans to bring new creativity to life through festivals of brand new works, world premieres of new productions and classic stories reimagined for contemporary audiences. High Fidelity is just the second show since opening in August 2019. Imagine a more upmarket Vaults and you wouldn't be far off the Turbine Theatre. A wonderful space for a new theatre to start its life.
Full of fun, High Fidelity breaks the fourth wall brilliantly and allows the audience to see behind the scenes as we find out about Rob and his messy love life. Oliver Ormson is energetic and captivating as Rob. His vocals are utilised well in the diverse score ranging from heartfelt ballads to rock anthems but it is his subtle humour and ability to connect with the audience where he really shines. Shanay Holmes puts her soulful, gospel quality to good use as Laura, Rob's latest ex. Despite being polar opposites you can see that the two characters are meant to be and the chemistry between the two performers onstage is brilliant.
The Turbine Theatre is an intimate venue and this has been carefully considered throughout. The cast often use the central aisle and the small stage is used well by choreographer Tom Jackson Greaves. Keeping up the immersive feel, the walls are lined with record posters and the set, designed by David Shields, transports you the back alleys of Tooting and to Rob's 'last real record store'. Lighting by Andrew Exeter also adds to the fun and with lights often facing and involving the audience they continue to break that fourth wall, making it very different to many productions.
All of the cast are talented and commit to their character (or multiple characters in the case of some performers) throughout the show. Bobbie Little, especially, stands out as Rob and Laura's hold nothing back friend Liz. Carl Au also impresses as Dick and Robert Tripolino has the audience in stitches as hippy Ian.
Director Tom Jackson Greaves aims to tell the story of the people on the outside, those who find it hard to communicate and their search for love and friendship. High Fidelity is about love and forgiveness and whilst Rob is not always the most relatable or, even likeable, character he is honest and oddly endearing. At times the story does drag and it could be scaled back to maintain focus but generally, the journey Rob goes on is well told. The original songs are fun, fresh and cleverly written. Whilst some of the songs may not be to everyone's taste, the large variety sometimes feeling at odds with each other, they are all performed brilliantly by the cast.
For something slightly different, High Fidelity is a fun evening out. Full of comedy, highs and lows and most of all love. Check it out during its limited run (until 7 December) at The Turbine Theatre.
Review: Amanda Reynolds Photo: Mark Senior