Marry Me A Little

 

Simon Bailey and Laura Pitt-Pulford. Photo: Roy Tan

Simon Bailey and Laura Pitt-Pulford. Photo: Roy Tan.

A man enters, sits on the sofa, takes off his shoes and swigs a beer. A woman shortly follows, carrying an empty cardboard box and a latte, and kneels down next to the sofa. Both sing about fairy tales and conclude that you may as well be dead if you’re spending Saturday night alone.

Marry Me a Little features a selection of unrelated Stephen Sondheim songs written between 1954 and 1973. Conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene, it tells the stories of two entirely separate people, named simply Man and Woman, who live just a floor apart. Onstage, their separate apartments become merged into one as they each reminisce and fantasise through song.

Under Hannah Chissick’s direction, however, the current production at the St James Studio is adapted to show a couple who are breaking up (or at least that’s what we think was the case). The constant juxtaposition of scenes — from saccharine love duets where performers interact with each other (which we took to be flashbacks to the couple’s former happiness) to lonely, regretful solos — was confusing to say the least.

In the leading roles, Simon Bailey’s rock/musical theatre-style vocals conflict with Laura Pitt-Pulford’s distinctly operatic sounds. Both have strong individual voices, but together they don’t quite work.

Considering how difficult it is to follow the narrative (not helped by poor sightlines for anyone not in the front row) and the opposing vocal styles, it’s hard to enjoy Sondheim’s music. It wasn’t until the last song, It Wasn’t Meant to Happen, that we finally felt engaged.

Marry Me a Little is at the St James Studio (part of the St James Theatre) until 10 August.

Londonist received a complimentary ticket to review the performance.

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LauraDodge

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  • Carole Star

    Did we see the same show? It strikes me that you don’t have an understanding of Sondheim or the fact that the title song from Saturday Night is sung by teenage boys in the context of the show. Laura Pitt-Pulford is not operatic, but was required to use her upper register in a number of the songs. Her vocal range, interpretation & understanding of lyrics and acting talents are exceptional. I’m convinced she’ll be starring in a West End show before long. I wasn’t in the front row & had no problem with sight lines. If anyone with taste reads this, please don’t allow this review to put you off seeing the show, assuming you can get a ticket.

  • Will121

    Just back and found it charming piece, with a sting in the tail as usual with Sondheim and beautifully sung. I had no problem whatsoever with working out what was going on…Surprised that there was no scheduled ‘pause” to allow applause meaning that it ran in silence until the end which I thought didn’t reward the performers.