Closer Than Ever – Jermyn Street Theatre

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In a small and cosy little basement in the middle of London the Jermyn Street Theatre sits unnoticed and unspoilt. Free from the big industry sharks and even freer from the huge London tourist circus it happily produces little pockets of carefree theatre at its very best.

This musical revue of Richard Maltby Jnr and David Shire songs is a beautifully observed and casually beguiling portrait of middle-aged life and an unabashed study of love and relationships. It’s a piece that will hold more meaning to those that are in their own middle age and, for many of the youngsters in the audience will almost certainly not hit quite the same mark. To fully appreciate numbers such as the irrepressible ‘March of Time’ you need to have a little time under your belt first!

The Maltby/Shire songbook whilst often touching and light hearted lacks some of the grit and clever wit of a master lyricist like Stephen Sondheim, but then the evening doesn’t attempt to hang the songs to a thin and nonsensical plot in the way that Sondheim revues have done previously. Instead we are treated to a collection of songs played one after another with some holding more individual meaning than others.

The small and bijoux company of four are as slick and polished as one would expect from a foursome of seasoned professionals like these. To see them at such close quarters where there is no hiding place for them or us is a real treat.

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Graham Bickley, a man who is always great value for money is the commanding presence of the evening and touches beautifully with his One of the Good Guys. His comedy comes to the fore when dueting with the belter Sophie-Louise Dann in the fabulously wry and accurate Fandango. Dann somehow oozes truth and reality in everything that she sings and brings a familiarity to each number that is really very special.

Issy van Randwyck displays her usual comic panache, particularly in her hilariously sultry Miss Bryd number whilst Arvid Larsen keeps things touchingly down to earth as he completes the quartet. The two man band each get there time in the spotlight as well with musical director Nathan Martin and bassist A-J Brinkman bringing it all together into a neat little package.

For some it will be touching, for others just vaguely comic but everyone will find at least one song that they will connect with in what is a really elegantly crafted evening.

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