Start by adding in a strong ensemble cast, add in a stunning backdrop of the London skyline, plus a soundtrack full of catchy tunes, and you have yourself ‘New Fish: A Musical’’.
Irishness is often overlooked in musical theatre. Sure we have ‘Once: The Musical’, but even that feels a little bit dated now. Creator and producer of the show, Grace O’Malley, clearly saw a gap in the market and together with Karl Harpur (who penned the script), made the hilarious production.
Directed by Claire Tighe, the story follows Anna (Niamh McAllister), a simple, naive girl from Dublin, who moves to the big city of London. Dazzled by the sheer grandness of the place, she manages to find herself among a tight knit group of friends rather quickly.
There is the ever-so fabulous Daz (Colin Flynn), the brash and honest Lizzy (Amy Penston), the charming, albeit a bit too forward Luca (Barry John Kinsella) and the loveable and tragically dimwitted Daryl (Chris Corroon).
Anna spends the show navigating her new life, whilst chasing her dreams of being an actor. The storyline is perfect for comfort viewing, and offers up a lot of hysterical moments. The show spends a lot of time presenting the happy and carefree side to youth, such as partying, one-night stands, and pulling pranks on your friends. All of the characters are unique and defined, though it would have been nice to dive even deeper into some of their backgrounds. Much of the focus took a very lighthearted approach to these people, meaning that when the show needed to take a slightly darker turn, it felt rather abrupt and sudden.
The true highlight of the show featured Anna’s interactions with her mother (Christine Scarry) who embodies the warm, doting, albeit intrusive Irish mammy. Something about her presence on the stage left the audience with a warm feeling in their stomachs. She made us feel safe. Loved. And then had us in fits of laughter moments later.
The friendship between Daz and Anna was also a treat. The chemistry between the two was electric, and resonated with many of the groups of peers who would have come to the show together.
The music itself, written and composed by Ross O’Conor, is super fun, matched with excellently clever choreography (Tighe), though it could have maybe have had more diverse styles of sounds. Those who are a sucker for a ballad will be left waiting until the end.
‘New Fish: A Musical’ is a fun, witty and feel-good piece of theatre that is worth keeping an eye on as it progresses on its musical journey.
Review by Kevin Worrall
‘New Fish: A Musical’ is playing in the Smock Alley Theatre until Saturday, 19th October.