Produced by Disclosure Group, Suicide: The Musical is a new and original performance, written and composed by Edinburgh-based Robert Lucas. Michael Davies directs. As the name suggests, don’t go into this expecting something upbeat. Bleakness, monotony and dark comedy are the basis of the tunes. A few tears escape throughout the performance, culminating in audible sniffles with the poignant finale. It’s a harrowing account of how easy falling into a dangerous mindset can be.
Suicide: The Musical depicts the triggers that can lead to suicidal thoughts in men. We follow John (played by Bob Bowden and Mark Kydd on alternative evenings) through his mundane day-to-day life, his feelings about people and situations and his eventual suicide attempt, before a well-timed phone call saves the day.
It’s a brave topic to deploy for a musical – sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
The music is well-written and complements each situation. For example, a piece about déjà vu is repetitive, with the same notes and structure throughout the song. However, the subject matter is dark, so not many of the songs are lively or make you want to sing along. The most upbeat song is the protagonist declaring his love for a bottle of wine. Four musicians play live – all of whom are very talented and sharp with their performance. The percussion and piano melodies are recorded though. Live piano would have helped create a more mournful ambiance.
Bowden is a fabulous singer, delivering the emotional performance needed for the sorrowful topic. Occasionally though, during softer songs, the instruments drown him out a little. It’s a shame, as it’s often during these pieces the rawness comes in.
Snippets of comic relief are scattered throughout, but probably too few and far between. Yes, it’s a musical about male suicide, but there are some funny moments which could fleshed out to further the comedy – such as John using iPhone app Siri as a substitute therapist.
Still, as promised, the musical leaves you feeling happy but tearful. Here’s one hour that will make you think.