"Click To Connect" Review - Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group


Design: Isabel Duffy

"Click To Connect" is a brand new musical, composed by Maddy Baron and written by Rachel Chung, Alice Jackson, Olivia Johnston, Fionnuala Marshall and Hannah McGregor. It has been produced by the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group, in collaboration with EUTV.

It follows eight characters trying to find socially distant love, all with varying degrees of success. 

To say that I was entertained would be an understatement. I was gripped the entire way through the show, just not always for the best reasons. I'd like to note that I missed the first 5 to 8 minutes of the show - a pause button appeared, and I clicked it, assuming I could carry on when I want to, but this was not the case. It skipped to catch up with the live broadcast. With that in mind, this review is written about all but the first 5 minutes of the show.

Let's start with the positives: this show was built from the ground up in a very short space of time. An original concept, combined with an original score and script, all produced during lockdown is an ambitious feat, and Click To Connect very nearly pulls it off.

The songs are mathematic musical theatre. That is to say, they a few of them are catchy, and as a setlist, they are nearly clich√©, which is a good thing. In such an unfamiliar theatrical environment, having consistency in the music, almost like a grounding force pulling us back to the feelings we get from in person theatre, is one of the best bits of the show. The songs were very varied in their styles. Personally, my favourite was "Waiting Room" as it was hugely reminiscent of some of my favourite artists, in particular mid 2000s Green Day. The orchestrations and audio balancing were stellar, on the level of a professional cast recording. This didn't gel so well in terms of transitions from dialogue to songs, as the audio quality differed hugely, but this was only particularly jarring in the first couple of seconds of each song. 

This naturally brings us onto tech. The tech, as I say, was strong in terms of the music. It also was really charming seeing the "click2connect" interface, which was Zoom but cooler. There was one technical error, which I found odd given the show was pre-recorded. I initially thought it was a very weird creative decision, but the production team contacted me to let me know it was a mistake and it would be fixed for future performances. This was the only issue with tech in the whole show. The transitions between scenes were incredibly well animated by Alexander Morzeria-Davis, and it was highly immersive. 

The script was largely good. Having such a large writing team can very easily lead to inconsistency, and it was definitely the case here, but not often. The dips in quality were few and far between, but noticeable when they occurred. Oftentimes, it felt as if the script was written with specific intonation or movements in mind, which didn't always come through in the performances. This could be due to a lack of direction in certain areas, but is more likely to do with casting.

The cast was varied, fun, and talented. The particular standouts were Lucy Whelan as Amy, and Leonie Findlay as Kelsea, who seemed to have the characters practically written for them. They had clearly put a lot of time into characterisation, and I really believed that they were those characters. Annie Doherty and Nicola Alexander as Lex and Sam respectively were also hugely convincing, and I was really invested in their character progression. A lot of the aforementioned inconsistency is also seen in the cast. Each cast member was visibly better at either acting OR singing, rather than being a good balance of both. More specifically, there was around 15 minutes of music and 55 minutes of acting, and it was very odd to see some absolutely incredible singers that weren't so strong in their acting abilities, in something that was, at its core, more play than musical. 

One thing that really bothered me, and this was probably the most disappointing aspect of the entire show, is that it was quite clear that a couple of the actors were reading from the script whilst recording, rather than having learned their lines. This was most obvious in a couple of emotional scenes, where it was like there was a delay between the actor reading the line and then reacting emotionally to it. It definitely broke the illusion of this seamless fly-on-the-webcam world that the vast majority of the production team, cast, and runtime created nearly perfectly. 

"Click To Connect" set out to achieve far too much, and the fact it achieved most of it is very impressive. Unfortunately, it falls just short of being the revolutionary masterpiece it could have been with a slightly larger timescale, but with the theatres having been closed for nearly 9 months now, "Click To Connect" may very well scratch an itch that's been unscratchable for a very long time, and you'll definitely be entertained watching it.

Verdict: ★★★½

"Click To Connect" runs until 12th December online on BookTix Live.

Tickets: www.booktixlive.co.uk/portal/eusog/show/15 


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