Thanks to determination, perseverance and crowdfunding, Muted has finally made it to its opening night at The Bunker Theatre.
With music and lyrics by Tim Prottey-Jones and Tori Allen-Martin, the production, directed by Jamie Jackson, is a musical where one of the central characters cannot speak (and by default, cannot sing). This might seem like a non-starter, but Muted is actually a very clever story, told incredibly well. The superb score and compelling plot make for an almighty combination.
At seventeen years old ‘Michael’ is the talented lead singer of ‘Lost Boy’, but when his over-protective mother is killed in a hit and run, he is unable to cope. Three years later he’s living with his uncle and hasn’t spoken a word since his mother’s death. Best friend ‘Jake’ and ex-girlfriend ‘Lauren’ try to make him speak again although they have different motives for doing so. ‘Michael’ has to relive the past through his teenage self and face some uncomfortable truths.
The passion for her work erupts from Tori Allen-Martin when she is on stage as ‘Lauren’. Giving a powerful and commanding performance throughout, she is completely immersed in the character allowing the audience to feel every emotion along with her.
As Michael, David Leopold is astounding, playing a mute character his performance is almost entirely physical, and without speaking a word, he portrays a range of complex and varied emotions.
The physical performance is mirrored in the other characters; there are very precise arm and hand movements from all of the characters with symbolism reminiscent of Lady Macbeth (out, damned spot). It works to a point, but at times could be distracting.
Michaels story is told through ‘Teenage Michael’ played by Edd Campbell Bird, who gives, perhaps, the most beautiful performances of the night. He takes the already enchanting rock ballads and injects them with a goosebumps-inducing tenderness.
Stripped back staging, comprising a central podium surrounded by water proves effective, with the water, and swing above, expanding on the use of symbolism.
Muted is doing, in London, what Dear Evan Hansen has done on Broadway: wrapping complex psychological issues with an intense and heartfelt score. Muted may have been a long time in the making, but it was certainly worth the wait.
Photography courtesy of Savannah Photographic