Arty failure Cass and boring success James have grown up together, but occupy opposite ends of the fun spectrum. Both siblings are in the twenties – with little in common except they’re at a crossroads in life. This thoughtful musical explores family dynamics and how our different life choices shape us, accompanied throughout by a live string quartet.
Cass can’t work washing machines and has had her water cut off; James once dreamt of being an astronaut or a ballet dancer, but has settled for life as a banker. Following the collapse of their parents’ marriage they’re thrown together again, when they meet back at their childhood home. Surrounded by reminders of the past, their relationship is set on a collision course as they fail understand each others choices.
At its heart is the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost – a reminder that beneath the quarrelling they must try respect each other’s path, and that there is no single right answer. The musical numbers are enriched by the mellow string quartet, who feel a real treat for the small size of the venue. There’s consistently impassioned singing throughout, although one performer has a more powerful voice than the other, a fact which isn’t helped by the slightly damp acoustics of the space.
Perhaps inevitably, for a performance that focuses on the relationship between two people rather than an intricate plot, it can sometimes feel a little clunky with a tendency towards cliche. Much of the interaction descends into slightly tedious bickering, though this is offset by some genuinely poignant moments.
This is a musical with a warm heart. It’s not perfect but the premise works nicely, and there’s enough to keep the audience engaged. The themes are relatable… particularly for anyone who shudders at the thought of a parent proudly proclaiming themselves ‘a single pringle’, or who sometimes wonders how they can possibly share the same DNA with their siblings.