Last night a good friend was nice enough to arrange free tickets for us to go see the musical Merrily We Roll Along at the Harold Pinter Theatre. In reverse chronological order it tells the demise of a group of artist friends, a composer, a lyricist, and a writer from the sixties to through to the seventies. I’d never even heard of this musical before yesterday so I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much.
It definitely explored themes I’m particularly interested in as an artist myself – how do you balance between doing art for yourself and for the public? When do you pick money over art? As well as the themes that as you grow older and wiser (or less so in some cases) the dream that you can change the world slowly fades. Jenna Russell as Mary the writer, really stole the show for me - funny and heart breaking at the same time. Every line was a 'if I wasn't laughing I'd been crying' feeling.
I found the second half to be much stronger then the first, as it dealt with the younger parts of the friends lives but the whole show lacked any show stopping songs. Although they were upbeat (and at times quite witty – one especially about the Kennedy’s) at the time, I couldn’t remember a single tune from the minute I walked out of the theatre!
The theatre itself was rather unimpressive but a good space nonetheless. A tip if you are looking for a pre-show drink - keep walking up the stairs to the top and there is a lovelier (and perhaps a little bit fancier) bar where less people seem to go – probably because of all the flights of stairs. The line’s are shorter and there are arm chairs to sink into.
Good company, a few laughs and theatre - All in all, a great night.