by Emily Healey-Lynham

Lift is a new musical from Craig Adams and Ian Watson. It follows the various adventures and misadventures of a group of Londoners (and 2 American tourists) whose lives and stories cross each day in some small way as they pass each other at Covent Garden tube station. During the musical the group gets stuck in a lift at the tube station and we learn more about each character during 54 seconds (or snapshots) of their life.

Lift started its life in 1999 as an idea at Mountview Theatre and first came to the attention of Andy and Wendy Barnes at Perfect Pitch (a not-for-profit company dedicated to the development of new British musicals) in 2008 as a submission of a 2 song demo and an early draft of the full show, the piece was workshopped prior to forming part of the Perfect Pitch 2008 showcase at Trafalgar Studios, London. Perfect Pitch also produced the Original Concept Album of the show in 2012 and any share of profits they receive from the album and sheet music sales are fed back into the development network to support new shows and emerging writers, which is a great way for new British Theatre to be showcased.

Each character in Lift is defined by what they do, rather than who they are; busker (George Maguire), ballet dancer (Jonny Fines) and lap dancer (Cynthia Erivo – who performs a spine tingling version of “It’s been a year”, a performance that is both vulnerable and moving). Julie Atherton, who has done a lot of work with the original concept album, appears in this production as a French teacher who sings an emotional love song “Lost in translations” which appeared on her second album ‘No Space for Air’ and it is beautiful to hear it sung live and understand the story of her character and her reasons for singing the song.

The show also features great performances from Nikki Davis-Jones as a secretary and Luke Kempner as the token of her affection, a bright young thing in the world of business.   Ellie Kirk and Robbie Towns play two American tourists also trapped in the lift and they get a big laugh with one of the last lines of the show asking for “Liesester Square”!

The backbone of the show is the music. Each main character gets to lead on at least one song, alongside a number of ensemble pieces. The music is a mixture of lively and often comedic songs interspersed with more down-toned reflective Sondheim style numbers, the songs get you thinking and listening again to the concept album the emotions are still felt. Go online to hear some snippets of the tunes but I highly recommend purchasing the original album that became this musical.

The most notable thing about the show is its choreography, characters use silent action to indicate the motion of a train or give the impression of other scenarios as they unfold. Each of the key actors on stage makes an impact with their combination of silent action, singing, dancing and comedic timing.

The show keeps you engaged and it is overall a flawless production, it contains some good individual performances and enough laughs to get you through. I hope that you get to see it and lose yourself in translations for an enjoyable time at the theatre.

Lift is at Soho Theatre until 24 February at 7.30pm, with Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 4pm. Tickets cost £12 – £29.50.

Soho Theatre
21 Dean Street
London W1D 3NE
United Kingdom

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