The indie Irish musical Big Shot has just finished a week’s residency at London Irish Centre, Camden
Lauryn Gaffney’s ambitious and enthusiastic debut musical Big Shot focuses on the difficulties of a young Irish artist, Carrie (Jade Young) in New York, whose life becomes far more difficult once her fiancé murders someone. It is the songs that stand out, however, rather than the plot.
The show suffered from some technical difficulties on its second night of a week-long residency at the London Irish centre, especially radio microphones which suffered from interference and sometimes obscured the lyrics (especially a problem during the larger ensemble numbers), the cast performed with enthusiasm and polish.
As the leads, Young and Donal Brennan, playing Jeremy Crocker, an ambitious lawyer, have the two strongest songs in the piece.
Been Awake For One Hundred Hours, sung by Carrie as she tries to work out whether she should lie on the witness stand for her fiancé, is a powerful ballad about sleep deprivation and guilt, and What’s a Man To Do? sung by Jeremy about his conflicted feelings about Carrie, is also memorable.
The six piece band who accompanied the songs were also excellent. Niamh Chambers and Sean McMahon give exuberant performances in the comic subplot, revolving around the café where Carrie works, and the romance between Carrie’s boss, Vivian, and Jeremy’s friend, Frankie.
The choreography is strong, although seemed to suffer slightly from the play being in a new venue and on a smaller stage than in previous productions, as it meant the full ensemble numbers seemed a bit crowded.
This improved as the performance went on, however, and can probably be attributed to teething problems associated with a new venue.
There are a great many songs in the musical, and while Gaffney’s composition is excellent, this sometimes made the pace of the musical uneven, as well as meaning that the central performers frequently had to move between two or three songs in sequence.
Future iterations of the musical might be better served by slightly fewer songs, with more focus on the stand out numbers. All in all, the play is a brave and ambitious production by a young Irish songwriter who has proved herself one to watch and well worth seeing.