“A real gem of a show”
I can’t believe it’s already that time of year again where I dust off my quill for Fringe season. Time seems to be moving incredibly fast and before the madness of the month commences I find myself taking stock of just how far I’ve come since my first Fringe experience 10 years ago. It’s somewhat fitting then that my first review of the year is for Adele is Younger Than Us – a frank and funny assessment of one’s life’s achievements in comparison to those of a global superstar. And while, in so doing, it would be easy to wallow, have existential crises or bury one’s head in the sand, Sally O’Leary and Rhiannon Neads take a light-hearted musical look back at their journey to (almost) thirty.
Opening number “How do you write a love song?” isn’t the most original of subjects, and early on I was worried that this show would end up being one big cliché of every “unlucky in love” story ever told. But there’s more than enough personality and punch in the song to maintain interest, and a likeability and professionalism about the partnership that command respect.
Indeed, likeability and laughability are perhaps the words I would use most emphatically in describing the qualities of this show. The script is full of witticisms and puns (my particular favourite: describing the notion of being romantically unavailable as “Taken – like the daughter of Liam Neeson”), while the delivery and comic timing from both performers left me giggling on numerous occasions.
The framing and structure of the show, using Adele’s life and works to compare their own lives to works really well, and helps bring a sense of originality to proceedings. It allows the O’Leary and Neads – by all accounts two normal girls – to trace their own lives in comparison with Adele’s, giving the audience the chance to join them on their journey through adolescence into adulthood. It’s personal and revealing, but also reassuring that actually, we’re all in the same boat.
While there is some variation in mood and genre of the musical numbers, I would have liked to have seen a bit more risk taken creatively here. The attempted rap was a nice try but perhaps a little undercooked, or just a pastiche of itself – I’m not sure.
Overall, it’s a slick, polished and accomplished performance delivered with verve. A real surprising gem of a show.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 4 August)