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Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Clockmaker's Daughter | Review

A new folk-style fairytale has been born, through a cleverly-crafted storyline and a fantastic spine-tingling musical score, The Clockmaker's Daughter created by Webborn & Finn is currently on at the Landor Theatre, London until 4th July 2015.

Set both in the present day and the past in the fictional Irish town of Spindlewood a life-like statue of a mysterious girl stands in the town square and on the last night of winter the towns-folk gather round her to 'Turn the Key'. A peculiarly fashioned character takes us on a journey to the past unfolding the mystery and story behind the standing girl, Constance. The story is a well conceived idea with reflective and well thoughtout themes of time: the structural time period the show revolves round, the music, the on-going tick-tock sound in the 'auditorium', the use of projections and cogs around the Steampunk-esque set.

The intimate space although felt cramped at times with a 20-strong cast, live 4-piece band and set it made for captivating story-telling with the audience feeling very much gripped in the emotion and themes of 'prejudice, discrimination, animosity...', love and loss. There were moments of comedy and moments of great sadness while being left with a sense of joy and happiness. A very up-lifting tale played out by very strong performers. The band of characters, thanks to the great storyline, all play their part with their own storylines which gave a great sense of identity to the town of Spindlewood. The chorus worked well together and gave that true familiar sense that in this small town nothing new happens, time keeps repeating itself and everyone knows everything that's going on...or at least they think they do...

The pivotal character, Constance was outstanding! Jennifer Harding excelled in her role both in acting with her subtle robotic-like Coppelia-style movements and lovable, kind, inquisitive nature and her stunning voice- what a range! The rumbustious typical-villlain Ma' Riley played by the very assertive self-assured Jo Wickham was on form with her complex patter-songs, a role that needs to have great presence and with an air of spite that came across superbly. The Gepetto-like Clockmaker, Abraham (Lawrence Carmichael) at times sounded a little off-key but presented a strong un-dying love for Constance. His character became more interesting how this love at times became questionable if it was paternal love or of a more romantic/jealous love. Alyssa Martyn gave a charming performance as young-bride Amelia and showed her feisty side when challenging the 'angry-mob's' views and morals.  The story-line although kept to some traditions it held a freshness that gave it a different edge; the fact that the themes of love were not flouncy, over-the top disney-esque. The love-interest Will (Alan Mchale) was not overly macho or tall, dark and handsome but his character was kept understated, sensitive and gentle. There was no kiss just the simple words 'I love you' which gave more impact to the twists and turns in the story.

The musical numbers held all the right themes of Musical Theatre that I have come to love: the love duets with glorious melodies, the comedic patter-songs, the complex layered chorus songs, the solo numbers. However, above all what makes this musical stand out is the gorgeous Einaudi-style Piano parts (which I can't wait to play, having purchased the sheet music in the Interval) reflecting the tick-tock, hum-drum of Time just perfectly throughout. The musical themes have given this show it's own identity. At times main character's songs were lost as their back-stories had not been made clear. 'You're Still Here' and 'A Modest Modiste' - although incredible numbers was difficult to gage who and why they were singing until the story started to develop.

David Shield's design and Richard Lambert's Lighting design and projection were versatile and used the limited space well, the projections helped show changes in scene subtly where set due to space was unable to. I especially liked the pedestal's and the bookcase's adaptability. However the set did feel cramped at times and a little miss-matched; it needed more symmetry. The columns limited the space and the window, possibly due to lighting delay did not come-across well. Saying this, I feel this show is deserving and would benefit from a West End transfer where there would be more space for a clock-makers workshop, live band and town square with a cobbled street (described in the song, Spindlewood) and would show off Robbie O'Reilly's superb choreography. The costume's were beautiful and in-period. It was a shame that Ma' Riley's costumes had the same trademark 'puffy sleeves' as Constance's dresses. A different design would have differentiated each character's identity. The modern-day dress was subtle but effective in comparison to their older-generation costumes. At the beginning I did struggle with the choice for Will's first outfit but it intrigued me, keeping me gripped to the story-line until the spine-tingling end.

I wholly recommend you buy your tickets now and see this marvelous new production. I have great admiration for the director, Robert McWhir, and for the creators Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn. A beautifully woven storyline and great musical stylings with themes similar to Einaudi, Howard Goodall, Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken but above all it's own style and approach.

Book Tickets here

Landor Theatre
70 Landor Road,
London SW9 9PH

The Theatre (closest tube is Clapham North) is on the first floor of the Landor Pub which sells yummy pub-grub and BBQ. The Box Office where you collect your ticket an hour before the show starts is on the Pub floor.