Company (1970) book by George Furth

(21 September 2015)

Company (1970) book by George Furth, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, original productions directed by Harold Prince.

I’ve just seen, a bright new and exciting production of Company presented by Watch This. Comprised of a cast of fabulous voices, and superb acting we celebrate Robert’s thirty-fifth birthday “with all these good and crazy people, (his) married friends) and girlfriends while Robert (Bobby baby, Bobby, bubi, Robert darling) confronts his relationships with all of them.

Audiences who already know or have seen the show will not be disappointed by all the special “moments” in the show. The entire cast sings, moves and delivers their lines well, conveying the personalities of the characters they portray. The show is performed “unplugged”, no amplification, making it possible to hear this cast of fabulous voices perform without technical distortion. (except if you end up sitting  right next to the band). That comment aside, the balance between singers and musicians is very good. The orchestration is significantly light and serviceable.

I do feel that the transitions could have been smoother. The set design unfortunately did not make this possible and was one of two technical weaknesses in the production. The other weakness was the costume design or lack thereof. While being a small production company, working to a tight budget it they still could have come up with a sturdy more imaginative set that was also safer to perform on. As for the costumes, they made no sense at all.

But back to why one goes to see Company.

“The Notion: A man with no emotional commitments reassesses his life on his thirty-fifth birthday by reviewing his relationships with his married acquaintances and his girl friends. That is the entire plot.” (Sondheim, Finishing the Hat, Virgin Books, 2010)

Bobby’s married friends worry that he is going to be all alone as he gets older. They are constantly espousing the virtues of being married, while they themselves are not really sure whether they are better off than Bobby. Isn’t it better to be married and miserable than to live alone? But Robert isn’t alone. He has his married friends who share enough of their highs and lows of married life than any man or woman could want to know about. In the meantime, Robert is not shy. He dates lots of girls including a stewardess of certain intelligence (April), a woman of maturity looking to settle down (Kathy) and a young “free-spirit”, loving all that New York City has to offer (Marta). Most important he can be alone when he wants to be, a point and a plus he highlights to his married friends. What we come to realise is that each of the five married couples are using Robert as a focal point for their own wants and desires. In the end we all thrive on our own angst. The final powerhouse number in the show “Being Alive” leaves us asking more questions rather than answering them for us. The one thing that is certain is that they/we all want to love and be loved.

“Company” is having a limited run at 45 Downstairs until 4 October 2015. 45 Flinders Lane. Cast: Nick Simpson-Deeks (Robert), Nicole Melloy (Sarah), John O’Hara (Harry); Johanna Allen (Jenny), Mark Dickinson (David); Gillian Cosgriff (Susan), Nelson Gardner (Peter); Sonya Suares (Amy), Tim Paige (Paul); Sally Bourne (Joanne), Nathan Carter (Larry); Carina Waye (April), Madeline Mackenzie (Kathy) and Biana Baykara (Marta).

Director, Kat Henry; Choreographer, Michael Ralph; Musical Director, Lucy O’Brien.

© Henry Sachwald 2015

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