Lift is a new musical from Craig Adams and Ian Watson. It follows the various adventures (and misadventures) of a group of Londoners whose lives and stories cross briefly each day as they pass each other in a lift at Covent Garden tube station.
Each character is defined by what they do, rather than who they are; busker (George Maguire), ballet dancer (Jonny Fines) and lap dancer (Cynthia Erivo) etcetera. The play follows the lives of each of the seven or so main characters as they fall in and out of love, get in scrapes and generally go about their business.
Many of the funniest and most entertaining moments come courtesy of Fines as a dancer struggling to find a boyfriend. His performance is engaging, funny and a definite stand-out within Lift. But while many of the individual performances are strong, the production is let down by the fact that the concept wears rather thin, meaning that it largely becomes a selection of show tunes held together with a loose narrative and a few laughs. And in the parts where the show veers away from comedy, there is a slight tendency for it to lapse into mawkishness and become corny.
However, the backbone of the show is the music. Each main character gets to lead on at least one song, alongside a number of ensemble pieces. The music is a mixture of lively and often comedic songs interspersed with more down-toned reflective numbers, but some of it is forgettable tunes that could exist in any number of other musicals.
The most notable thing about the show is its choreography. Characters use silent action to indicate the motion of a train or give the impression of other scenarios as they unfold. Each of the key actors on stage makes an impact with their combination of silent action, singing, dancing and comedic timing.
While Lift struggles to achieve what it sets out to do, there are things to keep the audience engaged. It is overall a flawed production, but it does contain some good individual performances and enough laughs to get you through.
Lift is at Soho Theatre until 24 February at 7.30pm, with Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 4pm. Tickets cost £12 – £29.50.