A relatively new musical in a format suited to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (where shows are generally an hour, featuring smaller casts) meant those going to see Get Your Sh*t Together should expect to be charmed and drawn in by the story TDTC’s production is choosing to tell, rather than blown away with a multitude of dazzling dance numbers or extreme set pieces that might be seen in a more classical West End-style musical. Director Isabelle Culkin and Musical Director Becca Rickwood have realised that vision of a light-hearted, feel-good smaller scale musical with complete success.
The stage was used effectively by Technical Director Tom Poon with the flats brought quite far up the excessively deep Assembly Rooms stage so none of the action was missed. Dropping the apron allowed for a creative and effective image of the classic ‘shabby apartment above a bar’ trope, with the set delightfully dressed with pizza boxes (no doubt joyfully sourced by Producers Suzy Hawes and Genevieve Burns in the conventional way in the weeks leading up to the show).
Maddie Graham (Annabelle) and Jazzy Price (Lana) were a charming sister duo, conveying an excellent contrast of boundless school-girl enthusiasm, and cynical yet vulnerable primary schoolteacher. Maddie’s preachy, yet well-intentioned petitions will ring true to life in anyone with a similarly relentless chirpy younger sister, and is backed up by her lovely voice. Jazzy’s jaded middle-child is very much more interested in drinking gin and flirting with dashing barman Sam (George Rexstrew), their dialogues flows incredibly well with excellent chemistry between the duo culminating with a touching duet reflecting the semi-coy ‘banterous’ flirting currently very much in vogue, but yearning for an easier, more direct path (but without either wanting to be seen as ‘needy’). Lily Ratnavel was absolutely hilariously as the unfortunately named awkward pizza delivery girl-come-love interest Marguerite, she delivered an incredibly well rounded performance (with solid range, from the awkward first meeting to when she showcased Marguerite’s slightly harder side when confronting Joe McWilliam’s Alex) and was a joy to watch and listen to.
Joe McWilliam is great as down-on-his-luck Alex, from dejected potted-plant bearing ex-employee to exasperated older brother – the song ‘Secret Santa, I fuck*ng hate you’ was a particular highlight. Unfortunately, despite this, the character Alex is the least interesting character in the show in which he is the nominal male lead, this isn’t the fault of TDTC and company, but rather of the original script falling back onto tried-and-tested musical theatre tropes, which is such a shame when the other characters are so varied and entertaining.
A particularly delightful aspect of the show, which this production highlighted is that it frees the band from the orchestral pit. Proudly showcased in the bar (but more than mere set-dressing) the band-come-chorus added a lovely element to the show, particularly Ernest (Edward Hislop) the sassy clarinettist injecting well timed humour to many of the interactions happening on stage. The singing and musical was generally very well balanced by Sound Designer Matthew Jennings where all dialogue and singing was wonderfully clear- uncommonly for a musical I caught every single word spoken or sung on stage. Overall, the show left very little to be desired and is a charming way to spend an evening, particularly if you are in need of respite from the darkness of early December and the week 9 doldrums.