The Phase, The Vaults | Review

Monday 13 March 2023

The Phase
The Vaults

A new, British musical, The Phase follows four best friends and bandmates, Aziza, Rowan, Sage and Ava as they take on their Catholic school's oppressive rules which restrict them from expressing their queerness. The coming-of age musical tackles a number of issues in a short time and is a well written exploration of teenage life and identity.

The Vault Festival is a great event for shows to form and find audiences but the space, budget and time constraints don't always allow for much development. The team behind The Phase have done a great job working with these limitations and have created a musical that feels pretty well rounded and has design interest as well as great performances. The set comprises of large drawn out items such as rulers and pens that are transformed into various other things, and the band dressed as crayons complete the pencil case assortment and give the show a unique look and feel.

Led by musical director Amy Hsu, the band do a great job of leading the piece and accompanying the cast who provide consistently strong vocals. With Jocasta Almgill as Aziza, Ashley Goh as Rowan, Holly Ryan as Sage and Gracie McGonigal as Ava, the quad create a wholesome group who really support one another and give each other room to grow and be who they want to be. All four have well defined characteristics, and in a different setting there would certainly be room to flesh them out further. The occasional mic issue did mean some moments were lost at this performance but this is something that can be easily ironed out.

The Phase is a show which knows its identity and retains it throughout. Every moment is cohesive and feels quite genuinely like a school drama. There is a lot of angst and a whole host of personal struggles from anxiety to friendship, and although at times it feels a little too much, there is a sincerity sewn through which makes it a lovely piece.

Zoe Morris and Meg McGrady have created a great piece of musical theatre, that under Izzy Rabey's direction really gets to soar. It's lovely to see queer stories told that are not surrounded by trauma, and this show does a great job at highlighting the joy and community found, even when individuals are struggling. From body dysmorphia to relationship boundaries, there is so much packed into the hour long show. At times it comes across a little too dramatic, but at the same time it is very evocative of school life.

Mention must also go to how accessible the team have made the show. With sensory items available as well as chill out spaces, the whole experience embodies inclusivity and is certainly paving the way for others.

The show has just finished its run at the the Vault Festival, but there's sure to be a future life for The Phase and it will continue to spread joy via a touching storyline and absolutely killer vocals.

Reviewed on Sunday 12th March 2023 by Olivia Mitchell

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}