15-21 Aug, 1100 (1215) @ The Zoo
Latymer Theatre Company offer us Heartsville, a town where gay is the norm and straight is an abomination, where the chess champ is the school heart-throb and the quarterback stars in the school musical, and where a matchmaking fairy called Zanna helps his fellow students to find love.
This premise allows for some solid jokes and a few genuinely subversive moments, but can also occasionally stray into painful stereotypes.
There are standout performances from Saul Boyer as the eponymous hero and Jesse Farragher as Roberta shows off some impressive vocals, a promising physicality, and an overall confidence in her performance. The other cast members vary considerably in skills and some of them struggle with the musical sequences in particular.
The staging offers a great example to other young companies of how to create a cohesive look simply – engagingly home-made images of each set are projected onto a screen at the back of the stage, with multipurpose chairs and benches doing the rest of the work. The costumes are also simple but effective, with all cast but Zanna wearing a variety of street clothing but sticking to a basic red and yellow colour scheme.
This was always going to be a difficult show as it has to tread a fine line between cliche and subversion, and it doesn’t always get it right, but with some catchy songs, clever staging and an enthusiastic cast, there is much to like about this show.