Marry Me A Little

2
Seen at The Stage Door Theatre, Drury Lane
By Daryl - 2nd Mar 2024

The Stage Door Theatre is a pop-up theatre space above the Prince of Wales pub in Covent Garden. In the tradition of the original Above The Stag in Victoria or The Landor in Clapham, this theatre-dinner space is a welcome addition to London’s West End.

The venue’s first outing is Marry Me A Little, a song cycle of ‘trunk’ songs – numbers that never made the cut from other shows – in this case, all by Stephen Sondheim. Using numbers cut from the likes of Follies, Company and Into The Woods, any fan of Sondheim is instantly presented with recognisable pieces, so there’s a sense of comfort in this story of ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’. But, for me, there’s also a sense of discomfort. Using songs that weren’t designed to be put together makes the story telling difficult. The fact that Sondheim never named the characters would, perhaps, imply that he never intended there to be a plot.

Robert McWhir’s direction gives us a sense of place – the apartment(s) of Man and Woman – but hasn’t found, or perhaps hasn’t tried to find, a solution to the issue of storytelling for either character, or of weaving their two lives together. For me, that’s the frustration. Not just with this production, but with the piece in general. If there’s no reason to deliver a song while heating your microwave dinner, then don’t.

‘Man’ is beautifully sung and subtly performed throughout by Markus Sodergren, showing a maturity beyond his years. Shelley Rivers as ‘Woman’ is far less convincing, with many of the numbers seemingly out of her range. In numbers where the two perform together, the imbalance is laid bare.

Daryl Bennett


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