The premise for Exposure: The Musical is exciting. A new that musical that looks at life through the lens and exposes the truth behind fame culture. The reality however is clichéd and rather cringe worthy. For a show based around photography, it certainly lacked focus.
The show describes itself as following young photographer Jimmy Tucker as he faces ‘the biggest and most exciting challenge of his life when a stranger commissions him to find and shoot the seven deadly sins alive and kicking in modern London.’ However, one of the shows major downfalls is the lack of storyline or streamlining of events. Mike Dyer’s script is all over the place. Every character felt like the lead. They all had far too many solos, each with no real overarching storyline.
The main storyline surrounding Jimmy and the seven deadly sins did not begin until the final song before the interval which again added to the confusion. However, the most unforgivable part of Dyer’s script is the whimsical, purgatory, dream scene. This scene really put the nail into Exposure’s coffin as Dyer tried to mash together the whole seven deadly sins storyline. It felt trippy, chaotic and embarrassing.
Furthermore, it was as if Dyer’s songs were written in line with a ‘how to create a musical’ checklist, including: lovers’ power ballad, character introduction song (which, might I add, was the opening to Act Two and was about a character who the audience had already met in previous scenes), Matilda-esque rip-off school scene and the dream-like ballet scene in the middle of a solo. The whole show was clichéd, convoluted and lacked any focus. The musical score was patronising and basic, with the same melodic themes being used over and over.
The show would have been slightly redeemable if it was overtly satirical, mocking the celebrity, fame fuelled society that we live in. But this was not the case and it felt like the production was constantly ramming a message down the audiences throat – the problem is I don’t think anyone actually knew what that message was meant to be.
The best thing about the show was the partnership with Getty Images and Canon and Timothy Bird’s set and video design. The set was like an art installation – crisp, fresh, it worked brilliantly, looked great and has set the mark for how photographic projections can be used in a performance.
Everything about the production felt rather bitty, like a jigsaw that had no chance of ever fitting together. Phil Willmott’s direction was unable to bring the whole show together and as a consequence Willmott presented the audience with a complicated and drawn-out production that didn’t make much sense. This then filtered down to his direction of the actors.
The moment that a half naked Jimmy, played by David Albury, walked onto the stage singing a song as if he was in the womb, began a series of awkward, unnecessary moments that took away any level of seriousness. Despite a good performance from Albury that demonstrated his vocal ability, it felt like Albury spent at least half of his time on stage not wearing a shirt, which sadly usurped his acting ability and presented him solely as eye candy.
Due to the far-reaching and forced nature of the Jimmy storyline there was no intention or real reasoning behind Albury’s character. This was nothing against Albury’s abilities, the show was overall two dimensional and no emotional depth could be shown.
Niamh Perry as Pandora spent her time on stage dropping the f-bomb in every other sentence. Although demonstrating strong vocal ability, there was no sustenance to her character and intentionally or not she came across like a second rate pop princess pretending to be rocky. This was a fault with Willmott’s direction, not Perry’s acting ability. However, the only authentic, emotion fuelled moment of the whole production was Perry’s song My last Goodbye. The way she controlled her vocals and brought a real raw vulnerability to her character in this moment was great. It was the highlight of the show and the only song that worked.
The other two primary cast members were ex- soap stars Natalie Anderson as Tara and Michael Greco as Miles Mason. Anderson as Tara was very witty and natural. Her characterisation was the most multi-dimensional of the cast; she demonstrated good vocal ability and, overall, Anderson’s stage presence thankfully picked up the show. My only criticism would be the unforgivable Irish melodies that were used in Anderson’s solo to highlight the fact that she was Irish. This was a patronising choice by Dyer.
Greco as Miles Mason played a modern Mephistopheles, multi-millionaire tycoon. There was a mythical, suave feeling that he brought to his role which did fit into the overall presentation of the show, but the devilish nature of his role was unnecessarily signalled by the occasional demonic voice overlay. It was clear that Greco is not a natural dancer and sadly a lot of his vocals were lost due to the music being too loud.
Exposure the Musical ticks the boxes for what a musical shouldn’t be. It’s convoluted, awkward and cliché. It’s a show to be missed.