Plot: Set firmly in, and often about the humour and pitfalls of living in New York, ‘Company’ follows five married, once married, or soon to be married couples and their mutual friend Robert, a 30-something bachelor who has been unable to commit to a long-term relationship even with himself! The relationships are presented in a series of ‘sketches’, through Bobby’s eyes, so that we see the less than ideal aspects of duodom. However, it is obvious to the audience that the committed are happier. Eventually, Bobby learns that while relationships aren’t perfect, they are a necessary part of ‘Being Alive’. ‘Company’ is, in effect, a memory play.
Here’s the thing; I have been dying to catch a revival of this musical since I was introduced to it nearly 5 years ago now by a fellow Sondheim enthusiast. Company and Passion are just but two Sondheim creations that hold a very special place in my heart. I have the original Broadway cast albums for both and know the songs by heart, at one point in the past it’s the most played albums in my iPod. Anyway, I had booked to see it with Abigail who just wanted to see a really good musical and to catch up on our SRB exploits. The Stage’s Mark Shenton twittered about how excellent the production was and fellow theatre trotters Johnny Fox and webcowgirl have seen the production ahead of me and gave it glowing recommendations so I was even more thrilled to see it.
It was my first time at the Union Theatre and instantly fell in love with the place, there is something about fringe venues like the Arcola for example that I find really attractive. We sat at the front row but wherever you sit wouldnt probably make any difference. So what did I think? Was it worth all the pining and yearning? If singing all the songs alongside this excellent, talented cast was any indication of how much good time I was having then that’s it, I had one helluva evening!
My favorite moments were the trio of Bobby’s supposed 3 girlfriends in You Could Drive A Person Crazy with the melodious, pitch perfect voices of Samantha Giffard, Katherine Eames, and Lucy Evans. Then there’s the hysterically funny Getting Married Today performed extremely well here by Marisa Leigh Boynton as crazy Amy laced with Jane Quinn’s fine operatic voice, and of course there’s the bring your house down performance of the classic ditty Ladies Who Lunch powerfully sang by Lucy Williamson as Joanne who, correct me if I am wrong but sounded a tad like Elaine Stritch from the original. Ensemble songs like Company and Side by Side/What Would We Do Without You was staged with fine, jazzed up choreography.
But how did Lincoln Stone, who played the quintessential male who’s afraid to commit fare as Bobby? I thought he was the perfect choice to play him. Not only did he sang very well but he also looks good, (it was a little bit distracting!) for a while there I couldnt stop but think which actor he did remind me of, then it clicked that he looked a lot like Eddie Cahill from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and CSI:NY. I was there singing with him as to the choices he had to make in Someone is Waiting, and his poignant, and highly emotive solo in probably every single’s person lamentation theme Being Alive, which by then I already had tears in my eyes.
This was an excellent revival of a Sondheim classic that didnt rely on unnecessary props, but relied heavily on such a fine and talented company of actors whose energy pulsated throughout. A must see if you still havent done so and if its director, Michael Strassen will eventually bring this to a bigger venue as it will now finish its run shortly, I am telling you now I will gladly have another serving of this wonderful Company and so should you.
Playing at the Union Theatre until June 13