BROMSGROVE’S Artrix played host to the premiere of a new musical on Sunday.
Delayed, written and directed by Jo Payne, was a beautiful and incredible piece of thought-provoking theatre.
It was inspired by Jo’s dad Paul Edwards’ song ‘Brown Haired Girl’ about two strangers who met on a railway station and, despite speaking different languages, had a conversation using hand gestures and an old photograph.
The production, which also carefully knitted together many of his songs, had everything a good musical should have – catchy well-written tunes, great choreography and a good storyline.
The opening was perfect for it with a railway scene on the stage of people milling around and busker performing as the audience took up their seats. It immediately took you into the world you were about the experience.
Part of the production’s charm was the way it had a lot of memorable moments in it that many watching could relate to, including trips to the seaside, games created by the childhood imagination and bike rides in the countryside.
Alongside those were some very poignant scenes, astute everyday life observations and sprinklings of comedy and humorous situations.
Towards the end the plot really gathered pace and there were a few spine-tingling twists which instantly sent you cold because of their impact on the overall plot.
Delayed was staged by a very talented cast and there were wonderful performances across the board, so much so it was difficult to pick out individual portrayals.
Ben Pountney as Frank and Alex Brockie as Hans, the two main characters, must have a mention as they played their parts perfectly and their on-stage chemistry was excellent. The way they began tentatively as strangers and became friends, like the railway opening, eased you into the story which was about to be told.
Bromsgrove singer-songwriter Dan Greenaway was also great as the busker which brought some welcome relief amidst the tense scenes.
Another clever aspect about Delayed was the set.
At either ends of the stage was a railway platform with one side having the station’s name which could be changed so the action could flit from Germany to England. On the other was a serving hatch, which meant it could be used, not only as the railway station coffee bar but also as an ice cream stall in Stratford-upon-Avon.
And in the middle was a large open space and a screen that played host to a multitude of areas, from a graveyard and a church to a cycle path and seaside town.
The main characters told the story on a bench on the one side, looking into the middle as their memories were played out and the way that was done was very powerful indeed.
You could hear a pin drop during Pountney’s epiloque-esque address at the funeral of his friend and the closing voiceover speech also had a huge impact on everyone watching.
As the audience filed out at the end, you could feel they had just witnessed the start of something big and Delayed certainly has the potential to go places.
It will be very interesting in the coming months and years to see which destination Delayed’s journey finally takes it to.