Thursday 20 July 2023

BLUE TO THE HORIZON: Musical Theatre Review

WHAT: Blue To The Horizon
WHEN: 18 - 22 July
WHERE: Bluestone Church Arts Space
WRITTEN BY: Sarah Wynen
DIRECTED BY: Daniel Kim and Tess Walsh
DESIGN BY: Elaine Mackaway
LIGHTING BY: Opal Essence
PERFORMED BY: Stephanie Beza, Jackson Cross, Mathew Dwyer, Zoe Harlen, Lucy May Knight, Nicole Rammesh, and Kristie Thai

Mathew Dwyer, Zoe Harlen, Stephanie Beza, Nicole Rammesh, Jackson Cross, Lucy May Knight - photo supplied

It really is true that some of the best theatre comes when you least expect it. I admit I was cold and tired last night and just wanted to curl up at home and stay warm and cosy. Instead I braved the night air and made my way to the Bluestone Church Arts Space only to have my socks knocked off with a wonderful and tight little musical Blue To The Horizon. Presented by Sevenfold Theatre, this show is only on until the 22nd of July so you need to jump on it quickly, but it will be worth it. Trust me!

Book, lyrics and music written by Sarah Wynen, Blue To The Horizon is a dystopian thriller. A nuclear bomb is dropped 100Km away but the blast devastates the east coast of Australia in very little time at all. Six hapless randoms find themselves fleeing to the ocean on a small boat. After staying confined in the small cabin for two weeks they brave the open air and try to decide on their next move. In a show full of life and death situations, romance, betrayal, and starvation, Blue To The Horizon is akin to Lord Of The Flies with a brilliant political kicker at the end. I truly think this show has the best ending I have ever seen and you never see it coming!

Wynen always intended Blue To The Horizon to be a minimalist musical theatre show, but I have to say I would be so excited to see this develop into something spectacular. It is a musical loaded with great characters, exhilarating music, and layered with ideas - some of them very dark indeed. All of it is sugar-coated with standard musical theatre tropes which only makes the dark edges sting even more when they appear.

Part of what makes Blue To The Horizon so good is the music and Daniel Kim (Musical Director) has layered in so many incredible harmonies it is like having an extended ear orgasm. I'm not going to lie, there is some pitchiness across most of the cast, but they hold it all together well enough and when they sing in chorus, with all of those clever harmonics, it fills the room and the soul. Kristie Thai is excellent on the piano and the clever composition and harmonies makes it sound as if there is more than the one instrument in the room. It really is incredibly well done!

Whilst I am talking about the ensemble, I need to say how amazing they all are as actors. Nicole Rammesh (Sophie) holds the show together with her nuanced portrayal of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood in an end of the world scenario. Jackson Cross (Bronson) has a charming pubescent vulnerability. The show does get stolen towards the end by Lucy May Knight's performance of the less than mentally stable Chris. Zoe Harlen (Anne) is very credible as a doctor and Stephanie Beza plays her partner Rae with a strength needed to balance out the cast. Mathew Dwyer's character Beau sits in a wierd space but Dwyer plays it with restraint, delicately avoiding turning him into a monster.

Another key element to this show working is the choreography (Tess Walsh). Walsh honours the minimalist aesthetic, working with repeated etudes, and clever symbolism to help the cast tell the story.  

Elaine Lackaway's set and costumes do their job nicely, but I did find the milk crates on the dolly really irritating. The cast just keep moving it around for no significant purpose most of the time. It is just silly 'business'. Forget about the crates. This is not a show about crates (despite the writer's description).  Opal Essence does a good job with very few lights and the important notes are hit with precision and boldness.

I alway love a raw, new musical. In fact, that is pretty much the only kind of musical I do enjoy. Blue To The Horizon is fresh and strong. It is shocking. It is outrageous. And yes, it is beautiful too. Don't miss it!

4.5 Stars

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