Brand new musical Another Way does feel like a show in progress but is brimming with potential and some fantastic performances, making it an attractive proposition and a perfect fit for the off-West End location.
The modern musical glimpses into the lives of six individuals, all loosely linked. The show starts with the chance meeting of Carrie and Oliver and watches their romance blossom from the first kiss onwards. We also take a peek into the working relationship of friends Toby and Sam and finally we meet Vivien and Alex, who is battling cancer.
The budding romance of Carrie and Oliver is by far the most interesting and successful narrative thread. It helps that the parts are infused with so much charm by the actors. Andy Coxon gives Oliver really endearing and naïve qualities which work perfectly against Julie Atherton’s flirty Carrie. Atherton (Mamma Mia, Avenue Q) is undoubtedly the star here – she sounds incredible in her opening number and her comic timing is spot-on throughout. It’s just a shame that we don’t get to hear enough of her soaring voice as she is not given a chance to shine vocally aside from the opening number – a wasted opportunity.
Atherton injects the show with some much needed sassiness which helps to cut through the, at times, saccharine narrative. The stand-out scene comes when the couple visits Oliver’s home for the first time and have an awkward encounter on the sofa bed. Both actors display great physicality win the audience over with ease.
The other two storylines do feel half-baked in comparison. The effects of cancer are dealt with in fairly broad and well-trodden strokes and Toby and Sam’s discussions about working for the ‘art’ or the money don’t feel particularly fresh. However, the cast is solid enough to maintain interest and the songs are well-placed throughout, with some nice melodic tunes coming from singer-songwriter Benedict. The band sounds fantastic too.
Overall the show does feel a bit unremarkable and safe, however, the creators wanted to write something “hopeful, funny and small” and they have undoubtedly succeeded.