Reputation, The Other Palace | Review

Saturday, 9 November 2019

The Other Palace
Reviewed on Friday 8th November 2019 by Olivia Mitchell

It's the 1930s and the males in Hollywood are King. The world is glamourous, 'talking pictures' are all the rage and a good story can get you far. Alick and Suzanne Glass' musical is narrated by Freddy Larceny, a huge Hollywood producer who steals a young up-and-coming writer's work and has to fight for the reputation he's so carefully sculpted. 

At this time, women are expected to be domestic creatures who stay in their lane and are there to support men with all they require; however, our heroine Michelle Grant confronts this and aims to write a novel and be her own boss. Maddy Banks plays Michelle with a burning energy and a sweet level of self-confidence. Her voice is strong, well-controlled and perfectly fitting for the musical style of the show, but the lack of variation in the score means we don't hear the full extent of Banks' vocals. 

Alick Glass' music is entertaining at times and is certainly evocative of the 30s, New York and Paris, but overall the musical feels overstuffed with underdeveloped pieces. Abrupt stops and repetitive melodies often hinder the flow of the show and instead of adding anything to the story, just reiterate something already mentioned. The best musical moments happen when the girls join together in ensemble harmony but these are equally overused and begin to lack oomph quickly.

Tamsyn Salter's choreography is delightful and again very fitting for the time period. Salter has worked wonderfully with the limited space of The Other Palace Studio and will surely look even better when the show develops to bigger venues. 

As the sleazy but kind of likeable crook, Jeremy Secomb is superb as Freddy Larceny. He is confident, slick and highly accomplished in his performance, giving a super strong vocal performance and is seeming well rounded despite actual character development. The lawyer who takes on Larceny, Archie Bright is played well by Ed Wade who is charmingly awkward and gives a stand out performance in act two when his vocals really shine.

Overall this is a production which certainly has potential but definitely needs to be edited and streamlined. It's great to see a show which focusses on a female narrative and rewriting history but it's hard to sympathise fully with our leading lady when many of her decisions remain motivated by a man. The love story is sweet but overshadows the female empowerment aspect which had the potential to be crucial and really make this show stand out. The cast do a great job and there are glimmers of magic but there absolutely needs to be more.

photo credit: photo donato