Heal! the Musical
Forbes Masson & Gordon Dougall
Sounds of Progress
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and touring
Standards vary wildly with new writing. While some pieces are fantastic, others are truly dire. Heal! The Musical falls under the latter category.
Sporting a contrived plot, poor writing, a mismatched cast, and acting which is (with one or two notable exceptions) simply atrocious, Heal! is an hour and a half of their lives which members of the audience might not want to lose.
Although it's laudable that Sounds of Progress create fully integrated musical productions, it's regrettable that they weren't able to, first of all, come up with a script with a comprehensible plot which actually developed over the course of the show. The weak premise of this piece, that down-and-out George (George Morrison, also the company's musical director) is about to kill himself when he's visited by a band of faith healers, never gets off the ground in a satisfactory way. The story progresses at a sluggish crawl until faith healer Dr. Taupe (Garry Robson) finally dies after an epileptic seizure, allowing the cast to rejoice in his spirit passing to the next world, and the audience to rejoice in the end of the show.
What is not laudable in this piece is that, in a show with two or three critical female roles, the only female cast member is Claire Cunningham. Her voice, while pitch-perfect, is ill-suited to the wide variety of songs she is forced, by virtue of being the only woman on the stage (aside from the sign language interpreter), to sing.
Like evangelical religion, the marketing for Heal! far outstrips the substance of the performance. The best joke of the night was when George tried to slit his wrists with an electric shaver, and the best moment was when the lights came up after the curtain call.
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody