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A Modern Town
Published on Sunday, 12 August 2012
4

4 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
Theatre
1-13, 15-27 Aug, 4:00pm-5:10pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

The seaside town of Newton-Bassett has definitely seen better days, a rusting funfair the only reminder of a once thriving resort. A Modern Town follows the story of Joe, who has inherited the less than profitable Webber’s store following his father’s recent death. When three investors arrive, offering a new future, Joe and the other residents must decide just how far they are willing to go to recapture the town’s lost glory.

The use of folk music between scenes is a highlight of the show, with some beautiful a cappella singing from the ensemble. The songs are well-chosen and excellently used to set the scene and comment on the action. There may be room to bring music into some of the scenes, making it more of a feature of the piece, and avoiding the pacing issues that arise from a slow-burning scene following such energised scene changes.

When I Say Jump are a young and energetic company, and the well-executed dance sequence during Joe’s night out makes good use of their physicality. Playing characters of characters of varying generations is a challenge, and director Jack Husebo may want to work on bringing more of the cast’s evident physical skills into their characterisation, in order to achieve greater clarity in terms of age.

Husebo’s script mainly establishes strong, simple characters that are humourous and likable. The conflicted Joe is a little harder to understand, and it might make his journey more tragic to emphasise his unselfish nature more clearly, earlier in the play, so it is clear his efforts to help the town are what lead to its downfall.

But A Modern Town has some excellent comic moments, as well as real poignancy in places.  When I Say Jump are full of youth and potential, and evidently want to explore interesting issues. It will be fascinating to see what they do next.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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