Sarah Blake spends an emotional Saturday night at the Etcetera Theatre, watching Liver and Lung Production’s new work ‘Justify my Preferences’
In the intimate Etcetera Theatre, situated above the Oxford Arms pub in Camden, I spent last Saturday night both laughing and weeping at Shafeeq Shajahan’s original musical ‘Justify my Preferences’. The storyline of a developing love and ultimate separation of the two characters was well written and directed – creating what was overall a convincing performance.
The two actors, Bryn Orth-Lashley and James Le Lacheur, established a believable romance between the characters of James and Seb. The development of Seb’s personality throughout the play was interesting to observe, and the humour that James’ innuendos brought to the play had the audience laughing out loud. Their baritone voices were powerful and a number of the songs, particularly the conclusive ‘I wanna fall in love again’, aided them in displaying this strength. Some awkward choreography in a couple of the more upbeat songs meant that some of the viewers’ overall belief in the characters was lost, but not enough to distract from the credible performances in general.
I was gripped for the whole first half of the play, by the storyline, the music and the characters. However, as the second half progressed, the plotline did not develop in as an intriguing manner as the first. The long distance phone calls between Seb and James started off being emotional and I will admit that I was shamelessly sobbing at times. Yet, after a number of almost identical conversations, the captivation somewhat disappeared. If the second half had been condensed slightly, then the single storyline would not have seemed as drawn out and the audience’s sentiments would have remained as strong as during the first half.
The use of the piano was excellent. The songs were well written and performed by Shajahan. For the small setting of the Etcetera Theatre, the employment of a singular instrument at the back of the stage worked very well – the music and voices complimented each other- neither one overpowering the other.
Overall, I enjoyed ‘Justify my Preferences’. For the first project by Liver and Lung Productions it is a strong foundation to build upon, and I would be keen to see another musical produced by them. Only next time I will make sure to wear waterproof mascara and bring a few extra tissues.
Image Credit: Alex Zarazphaev