Seen at the Garden Theatre at Eagle London.
The Next Thing You Know tells the story of four 20-somethings living in New York, coming to grips with life, love, growing up and hangovers that worsen with age. Written by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham, who gave us I Love You Because, we follow the inter-mingled lives of protagonists, Waverly, Lisa, Darren and Luke. Waverly is in a relationship with Darren, who used to go out with Lisa, Waverly’s (now lesbian) best friend, but dumps him for a fling with playboy Luke, who’d like her to be his forever love. Keeping up? Good.
Director Robert McWhir has opted to cast this production from the 2020 cohort of drama college graduates. Whilst this is a wholly laudable decision and each of the actors is undeniably talented, I’m not convinced that they have the life experiences to fully serve the show. All four actors give perfectly good performances; all sing very well (with Amelia Atherton as Lisa and Callum Henderson as Luke standing out, vocally, for me) but none of them quite inhabits their characters to achieve the dramatic payoffs that are required for the story to succeed. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but I left thinking ‘so what?’ and I’m sure that’s not what the director wanted.
Regardless of my opinion – and it is only that – we have to grab every chance we can to see and support new talent and to watch live theatre. Kudos to The Garden Theatre. And good luck to Amelia Atherton, Bessy Ewa, Callum Henderson and Nathan Shaw for what will hopefully be long and illustrious theatre careers.