Over the last few weeks I’ve been realising what an EPIC undertaking this musical really is. Most of the plays I write have 1,2 maybe 3 characters/actors in them but THIS MUSICAL!
So far there’s:
-The Reporter (if you have a suggestion for his name tweet me!)
-The Defence Lawyer
-The Prosecution Lawyer (Rebecca Cole)
-Awards ceremony host
That’s 10 characters already. I mean yes, there is a lot of doubling that can be done but still. Is this more than I realised? Is this project a massive monster? Probably, most likely… yes. I guess the trick of it is to try to make something BIG and COMPLEX seem simple and accessible.
Take Chicago, I’ve been thinking about Chicago quite a bit lately because there is a lawyer and court room scenes and you know… it’s a musical. I think Cell Block Tango is a complete masterpiece – I love the dripping tap and the footsteps opening. I love the fragmented text and the mix of singing and spoken text. And it’s sooo clever that it’s a tango. OF COURSE IT’S A TANGO! The passion, the aggression, the sex…
Other super clever things in Chicago – We Both Reached for the Gun. The ventriloquism act of a press conference! The creators in doing this have said something quite complex about the lawyer and client relationship without ever SAYING anything at all. It’s simple. We get it. And it’s fun and funny and so very theatrical too.
Razzle Dazzle Them. Again, super creative fun way to make a statement about lawyers and a jury that people will understand.
And maybe my favourite –comparing the of cross-examination of a witness to a tap-dance! YES!
So how do we do this with our show? I dunno. But starting to think about it is a good first step.
I saw this the other week –
Why am I telling you this? Because it was so complex and so simple all at once. I was very jealous I must admit. And everything about it came together so beautifully, the text, the acting, the direction, light and sound. And the use of comedy also really really helped. The comedy was mainly found in referencing the TV show Friends (which of course is a comedy in itself). Such a brilliant and simple idea! Hey, I don’t need to give my audience loads of backstory if I use pre-existing characters that we all already love! And actually that’s what Lucy Prebble does in Enron too – the raptors and Jurassic Park references, the Wars Stars stuff – HELLO A LIGHT SABER DANCE! – also the 3 blind mice stuff. Fun and accessible – get your audience there, get them laughing THEN you can get on down into something deep and dark and juicy.
In the words of Rupert Goold, “It needs theatricality. It needs metaphor. It needs big images.”
So yes, there’s none of that in our musical right now. BUT THERE WILL BE.