Bobby, perpetually single but surrounded by the couples he calls his friends, finds himself torn between societal expectations and what he wants in life. Linked by a 35th birthday party, with all the awkward moments one must undergo on such occasions, short vignettes recall Bobby’s dates, dinner-parties and conversations, making him reflect on life choices, falling in and out of love, and how to find true happiness within himself.
The musical, staged by the student society Edinburgh University Footlights at the cosy venue C Aquila, opens with beautiful harmonies that convey the pressure Bobby feels when his friends tell him what he should do – and gives you goosebumps right from the start.
With endearingly funny scenes such as a slapstick-style karate fight between a married couple, and brilliant solo songs that give each voice a chance to shine, the production immediately hooks the audience.
Despite the simplistic staging – with kitchen chairs as the only props – the cast’s impressive acting transports the audience to a lovely park in New York, a terrace overlooking the skyline, or a lavish dinner party. Although the stage does not allow for big dance numbers, the smaller-scale choreographies are effective and fun, completed by the smart costume design and imaginative employment of lighting.
As Bobby faces the question of when to get married, the production turns away from the light and funny atmosphere of the opening to a more serious and adult portrayal of Bobby’s quarter-life crisis, filled with stress, despair, confusion, uncertainty, and melancholy about what could have been. Conor O’Cuinn, stunning in his portrayal of Bobby, helps the audience get over the heat in the small venue with his warm, powerful voice in songs like ‘Marry Me a Little’, a strong and compelling presentation of deluded introspection.
There is not a single moment in the musical that does not bring joy. Again and again, surprising with witty dialogue and impressive singing voices that carry easily through the venue without microphones, the production keeps you captivated and always hoping for the next encounter in Bobby’s life, the next joke, the next song. The ensemble pieces are a particular delight, and the recurring musical motif of Bobby’s friends hauntingly singing his name turns into a tune to look forward to time and again.
Overall, a wonderful musical performed by a brilliant cast that convinces with both singing and acting: this production is not to be missed.
Company is being performed by by Edinburgh University Footlights 3-14 Aug at C aquila.
Press Image courtesy of Andrew Perry