“Full of the life and passion that the ethos of this show embodies”
There’s always something really special about seeing the closing night of a particular show, as they can often trigger performers into giving everything they have left in their bodies to deliver the performance of their lives. That’s exactly what happened with Uncompromising Artistry’s Edinburgh Fringe production of RENT.
Opening chorus number Rent was bursting with energy and was a fantastic introduction to the desperation, hardship and grit of 90s New York, while being full of the life and passion that the ethos of this show embodies. The company filled the stage with their presence and the theatre with stunning vocals, and it was a truly wonderful sequence. It seems somewhat unfortunate that after setting the bar so high so early on, the remaining chorus numbers, although excellent, were not quite able to live up to that show-stopping standard.
There were however, some exhilarating solo performances. For me, Johnny Newcomb absolutely stole the show as Roger, bringing a wonderful fragility to the character, while nailing every note he sung. He was captivating to watch in every scene, and showed a huge emotional range, even in the chorus numbers when he wasn’t centre of attention.
Injoy Fountain was also incredibly engaging in each of her minor roles, bringing bags of vitality to every scene, as well as a truly knockout vocal performance, including that riff in Seasons of Love. Zia Roberts as Joanne and Janet Krupin as Maureen really came into their own during Take Me or Leave Me, which was spine-tinglingly delivered, while Jonathan Christopher’s performance as Collins in the funeral scene was emotional enough to bring everyone to tears.
What really made this show special though was engagement with the audience and the cast’s ability to really bring us into the performance. During every chorus number the performers made eye contact with various people in the audience, always in character and with purpose. Seasons of Love was deliberately performed right at the front of the stage in one line, giving a very inclusive and welcoming feel to the show.
However, while showcasing some truly phenomenal individual moments, at times some of the staging seemed a little clumsy and laboured, with a few too many moments that relied on stage crew to move various things around on stage. In addition some of the choreography, particularly the death motif, seemed a bit over the top. But in all other respects this really was a tremendous effort and a very emotionally charged performance from still such a young company. Vive la vie bohème.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 30 August)
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