Tonight it was back to London, to see a brand new musical at a brand new venue – for me anyway, Indecent Proposal at Southwark Playhouse.
Set in the 90s in a Atlantic City Casino, happily married couple Rebecca and Jonny both work to try and make ends meet. Rebecca is in marketing and also starting a charity to help in women’s recruitment and Johnny picking up as many gigs as he can in bars across the city – dreaming of discovery and record label. As much as they try, money is always a worry especially for Jonny and as much as Rebecca says money can’t bring you happiness, the two are tested when an indecent proposal is given to them by a multi-millionaire Larry. A chance for a million dollars, for just one night with Rebecca.
Based on the book by Jack Engelhard of the same name, composer Dylan Schlosberg and writer Michael Conley have created a musical along with director Charlotte Westenra and designer Anna Kelsey to bring the book to live theatre. The audience are seated in the round, and presented to be the public attending the bar concert of the Casino, allowing the viewers to feel engulfed in the story from the moment that Annie speaks directly to us at the start of the musical. A simple pull out of a double bed transforms us to Rebecca and Jonnys house. The simplicity of the set allowed focus to be on the story. With the talented band present on stage, but also characters throughout the musical it all just clicked very well.
I myself have never read the book, or seen the 1993 film starring Demi Moore, so this was completely fresh and new to me with nothing to compare to. In some ways I feel that is the best approach because I thoroughly enjoyed the story and how it was told. The soundtrack was very simplistic with some songs being sung as part of the casino entertainment, ‘ Quit While I’m Around’ ‘Atlantic City’ and also incorporated intimate songs between Jonny and Rebecca that allowed them to express their emotions powerfully with the scenario that has been brought on them. ‘Easy Way/ Come Tomorrow’ ‘The Way We Were’ and especially ‘Wait and See’ which was a personal highlight that Lizzy Connolly playing Rebecca excelled at performing and showing of some amazing vocals – wow, just wow!
The story itself is compelling, seeing a loving couple with a offer any couple would struggle with. Norman Bowman goes through the emotions of Jonny perfectly, a husband that you can clearly see loves and adores his wife which was clearly displayed with his many scenes with the loveable Lizzy, to the desperation of the wish to be wealthy and provide for his family, to then come to the realization of what has happened. You truly went on this journey with him, sympathizing and warming to him. A different feeling that you feel towards Larry, Ako Mitchell although at first he is charming and shows an innocent/fun side during his unexpected solo ‘Have Love Again’, the moment he puts his offer on the table you start to to see the snake that he truly. Ako, was perfect within his role showing the transformation and the many faces of the character.
I can’t finish this blog without mentioning Annie, played by Jacqueline Dankworth, her voice was so warming and should be being the daughter of Jazz singers, each song came with ease to her and instantly chilled the room. But you also could not, not love her character a slightly mama to Jonny and Rebecca who you just wanted to be friends with. Her comical moments lifted the room and you couldn’t help but smile when ever she was on stage.
To go in completely blind to this show I feel was the best thing to do, as I am sure that many will compare or expect certain things if they have read the book or seen the film. I had no judgement and came away from a story that will stick with me and still leave me guessing – what would I do in that situation? A compelling story which some easy music that helps take us on the journey of a married couple.
Indecent Proposal plays at the Southwark Playhouse until Saturday 27th November 2021, for all ticket information go here.