Fear

Date 3rd March 2018
Society University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society
Venue Anchor Cafe
Type of Production Musical
Director Christopher Pope
Musical Director Bonnie Schwartz

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

This one act, (almost) three hander musical illustrates the fear of three university students Ash, Ferg and Sam who share student digs.

Ferg, the heart on his sleeve Casanova, performs the most exuberant number of the piece as he recollects everyone in his ‘little black book’ (or notches on his bed post) which is prompted from trying to remember the name of his previous night’s drunken romp, with whom he’s now besotted, if only he could remember her name! This was a prominent highlight in the one act vignette, a solid comedy number accomplished with a light-hearted tone and delivered with a tongue in cheek, energetic defiance by Tom Carswell. Tom is an accomplished performer with mounds of charismatic charm which were excellently used to his advantage in this piece of new writing.

Anna Toogood as the grounded head in her books Sam conveyed the ‘play hard but work harder’ conscience, striving for the best possible grades – the one you’d put your money on succeeding! while James Ward-Mallinson is the counterpart as Ash with a lack of drive, happy to play video games all day in his pyjamas while his deadlines mount up. James conveys the ridicule of the student stereotype to an entertaining result, a description most students campaign they are nothing like, yet this act still seemed to hit home with the students and parents in the audience, all executed with a sense of fun and self-mockery, playing up to the conventional student brand. His attachment to his hamster was adorable and as things turn around for him it soon becomes clear that it’s his journey which the audience latch on to thanks to this sincere and likeable rendition.

It’s not often I get to experience new and experimental writing projects so this (along with what’s coming up for UMMTS) is very refreshing, encouraging and innovative to our game. The plot is very frothy with not much to grip onto however it’s packed with heart and humour.

There were a couple of occasions where ‘in jokes’ seemed to alienate proportions of the audience.

As you may expect, things start to get a little whacky for added comedy value but the vocally impressive finale rounds things off with a feel good essence.  

Is Sam’s frantic stress over trying to hold down a job to pay her fees and panic over her assignments helping? Will Ash meet his deadlines and get the grades he needs? Does Ferg find fulfilment? …And who’s the milk thief!? If you want to know then catch it at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer!  

‘Fear’ is a satirical view on student life but with reality running through the centre. If you’ve taken life too seriously, not seriously enough, if you’re someone who enjoys sleeping around or have ever woken up with a sore head and can’t remember what you got up to the night before… then there’s something you can relate to in this new work! But primarily, with the way this piece is pitched - it’s by students, for students.