The Clockmakers Daughter Review Landor Theatre
All hail those writing new musicals. Seriously it is much harder than one would first imagine. It is so easy to regurgitate something “safe,” something audiences know or have heard of and are therefore more willing to invest in. The real skill is creating something new, exciting and attractive to the cautious public. Yes, what Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn have accomplish should indeed be commended, The Clockmaker’s Daughter certainly manages to hold its own at the Landor, however to I feel it lacked a certain original flair to truly trail blaze for new musical theatre.
If I were to stage a new show, I could only hope for the budget and set designer these gentleman had; David Shields did a stellar job of transforming the studio into something straight out of Hugo. Similarly I would be over the moon with the quality of cast; Jennifer Harding was gob smackingly excellent as Constance, Alan McHale was suitably bright eyed and bushy tailed as Will and some of the supporting cast such as Alyssa Martyn as Amelia and Alex Spinney as Henry led some deliciously tender moments.
Harding did the sweet but simple score justice, hitting some impressive notes and punching them out with feeling. It is a hard task to truly capture the imagination of an audience, but Harding had that one down with aplomb. Whilst not a particularly original premise, Constance, a manufactured “clockwork” being with an inexplicable sense of heart, was the most well written and developed. That said, for a new musical about a “woman,” the show was a little antiquated; the story pretty much hinged on some gals cooing over a nice dress and the only two larger ladies were either evil or there for the “comedy.” Hm.
What would be truly invigorating would be a new “musical” that didn’t stick quite so rigidly to the musical formular; action – song, action -song, action – rousing group number. Here Webborn and Finn have stuck to what they know, whereas I craved a bit more character scope before their obligatory “to audience, with feeling” numbers. For example, clock maker Abraham was jilted from the off, delivering a powerhouse performance of “You’re Still Here” to an audience that may have needed a little easing in. Similarly unyielding was evil dress maker Ma’ Riley, played with the prowess of a panto dame gone bad by Jo Wickman. Why she was a mega bitch who strived to be the only seamstress in the village, I mean who really knows.
I hasten to add the show WAS good; the production values were excellent and the cast did a stellar job. I suppose when I read the words “new musical,” I was expecting something a little more original and against the grain. I do think with a little script edit and some character development, the show could go far. Do go and see it; The ClockMaker’s Daughter is fringe done exceptionally well. The next challenge is to turn it into something even more than that.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter runs at the Landor until Saturday 4th July 2015.