35MM: A Musical Exhibition
Paradise in The Vault
What does a photograph tell us? A snapshot caught in time, or a fragment of a larger story, halted in mid-step? 35MM: A Musical Exhibition takes that concept and throws it headlong into the world of the stage musical.
Instead of telling a conventional narrative, the company, Musicality, instead takes a scattershot of styles, ranging from ballads to punk cabaret and even four-part gothic harmony to weave stories of connection. While it’s true the photographs projected on the screen are part of the performance, there is still every bit the sense of walking through an exhibition and letting the mind wander at the art.
Be it the story of a young man, running from nameless, shapeless nightmarish visions, a tale of spousal abuse, or a whimsically romantic story of two lovers finding each other, the play gives out in spades.
It’s a genuinely excellent and thoroughly enjoyable piece of theatre, complete with live musical accompaniment throughout. If there is a flaw with the piece, it’s that the concept itself doesn’t quite come clear immediately, meaning that some will spend the first few songs trying and failing to draw a story between them that isn’t there. There was also some issue with the venue’s acoustics, meaning that some quieter sung sections are drowned out by the hammered keys, but these are small complaints.
The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts, and the art is truly there to be heard as well as beheld.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan