Saturday, June 17, 2023

Marry Me a Little. Songs by Stephen Sondheim. Conceived and developed by Craig Lucas and Norman Rene. Directed by Jarrad West. Everyman Theatre. ACT Hub, Causeway Hall. Reviewed by ALANNA MACLEAN.

Photo: Janelle McMenamin and Michael Moore

Marry Me A Little
could be described as a tale of ships that might bump into one another briefly in the night. 

Two people living alone but in the same apartment block in New York muse and rage on their lives and the single state, while the near misses they have with each other make the audience hold its breath. 

It’s an entirely sung piece made out of songs that didn’t find a home elsewhere in Sondheim’s shows. That means, given the need for absolute clarity in his wordy and witty numbers, that the singing and the volume and the diction has to be spot on. I suspect that the performers are still sussing out the acoustics of the Hub. 

Alexander Unikowski is sensitive as the man who is a poet while Hannah Lance is both exuberant and pensive as the woman who lives in the same block.

Musical director Elizabeth Alford drives the music firmly from a keyboard tucked into the set. 

There’s one set that does for both apartments as the two separate lives overlap. The versatile Hub space is in end on mode which has resulted in a small rather too cluttered stage.

There’s a need for actors to know where their lights are, especially when they are selective, like light coming through a window at night. (Moving light - it’s the operator’s responsibility. Fixed light - the actor has to know how to find it) 

It’s an enjoyable piece; anything by Sondheim always has its pleasures. The show’s central conceit and the near misses take on a tragic edge at times. But the production could use more economy, less of the clutter and a bolder approach to the characters. And if it’s Sondheim, every word needs to be heard.