Posts Tagged ‘Joe Bunker’

I’m not sure I’ve seen a one-person musical before. I went with some trepidation, but I returned with a lot of admiration. I was surprised how well it told a story and how captivating the form could be.

Our Superhero is Colin Bradley, a Londoner fighting to stop his estranged wife Christine taking his beloved daughter Emily to the US. He’s reading a prepared statement at a hearing, from which we flash back all the way to Emily’s birth and early life, covering all of those parental fears and anxieties. Colin becomes principle carer when Christine gets a job offer they can’t refuse, and Colin’s bond with Emily strengthens. A confessed moment of madness results in separation and reasonably amicable informal joint custody. Christine makes a business trip to the US, taking Emily with her. It is extended, disrupting the arrangement, which becomes formalised with much more limited access, which is where Colin’s fight begins, embroiling him in campaign group Fathers 4 Justice.

There are thirteen songs, accompanied by a piano / bass / drum trio under Joe Bunker, which propel the story brilliantly, and there’s plenty of humour, most at Colin’s expense. Michael Rouse gives a virtuoso performance, with great vocals and deftly handled humour, which becomes deeply moving. You get completely wrapped up in the story of this one loving dad, which illustrates very well how much the custody system is prejudiced against fathers and completely out-of-touch with modern parenting, where shared responsibility is much more common. Michael becomes Colin and you can’t avoid feeling for him. With a well structured book by Michael Conley, excellent songs by Joseph Finlay and sharp lyrics by Richy Hughes – a team to watch, I’d say – it’s a lovely balance between entertainment, storytelling and real issues. Adam Lenson’s staging uses the intimate space well.

A ninety-minute gem you’d be wise to catch in its final week.

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