Sometimes people’s actions have a profound effect on those around them, and Stephen Dolginoff’s musical thriller “Flames” having its European premiere at the Waterloo East Theatre really delves the depths of human emotions following a period of extreme personal tragedy.
On a dark, stormy night, two people are walking through a graveyard. Eric (David O’Mahony) and Meredith (Abi Finley) have come to commemorate the anniversary of the death of his best friend and her fiancé Edmond. Exactly one year ago on this night, everyone’s life changed forever. Edmond had proposed to an ecstatic Meredith who dreamed of the two of them settling down in their nice expensive home with a kitchen full of expensive Smeg components, and then, as news emerged that he had been accused of massive financial fraud, had apparently committed suicide by the horrific method of setting fire to himself, and all the potential evidence of his crimes, in his office in the city. Twelve months on, supported by an adoring Eric, Meredith is starting to come to turns with her loss and feels she may be ready to move on with her life, much to Eric’s delight. Confused by her conflicting emotions and needing some time to herself, Meredith sends Eric away, and is busy contemplating her past and her future, when along comes a mysterious stranger (Bradley Clarkson). The stranger appears to know a lot about Edmond, Meredith and Eric and starts to reveal more about himself giving Meredith information that devastates her, completely alters her perspective of everything she believes she knows and will change the lives of both Meredith and Eric in the most profound way imaginable forever.
“Flames” is a very unusual musical in so many respects, in fact it’s difficult to fit it definitely into one specific theatrical genre. Stephen Dolginoff’ plays with the audience’s mind and perception from the first minute. As the story unfolds and reality becomes fiction while fiction becomes reality, the audience is left dumfounded as they try, and fail spectacularly, to guess the next twist in a plot more complicated than the maze in Packman. The musical numbers themselves are slotted into the plot in nice style and I really liked the number ‘He Can Still Hear You’ which I personally thought had a lovely message of hope for anyone that may have lost someone and wants to keep their spirit alive in the mind. The characters of Meredith – loyal to her lost fiance and with a will of iron – and Eric – always in the shadow of his more successful friend, playing a Boo-Boo to Edmond’s Yogi Bear, are nicely brought to life by the actors, while the mysterious stranger suddenly appearing and telling his compelling story, changing perception and creating such hypertension in Meredith that she may need a loop diuretic to relieve it is wonderfully portrayed by Bradley with a mixture of menace and honesty that creates confusion as to his motives throughout the show.
The set – a really effective and actually quite spooky cemetery – is used to great effect by Director Gary Noakes, who, with a trick of lighting (kudos to Designer Ali Hunter), transforms it into a nightclub and office building. The actors are really great and have fantastic voices performing the various songs (under Musical Director Matthew Eglinton) with clarity and an emotional intensity appropriate to the lyrics. They have a difficult job to deliver the highly convoluted script in a way that ensures the audience is completely hooked on the action and nobody loses track of the story at any point. All three worked extremely well together and seemed to really enjoy the show as much as the appreciative audience at the end.
I have to say that “Flames” was a really great show. From the opening thunderstorm, through the various plot twists, to an ending that came out of nowhere, blowing away my perceptions of my skills to anticipate theatrical writing, “Flames” kept me spellbound all the way. My companion and I left the theatre thoroughly entertained and talking animatedly about what we had just gone through.
Review by Terry Eastham
Waterloo East Theatre presents the European Premier of Stephen Dolginoff’s new musical thriller ‘Flames’
Cast : Abi Finley : David O’Mahony : Bradley Clarkson
Director by Garry Noakes : Musical Director Mathew Eglinton
Flames by Stephen Dolginoff – European premiere of a New Musical Thriller
One year ago, Edmond died in a horrible fire. He took with him the dreams of his fiancée, Meredith, the trust of his best friend, Eric, and the answers to the burning questions that still linger about his death and the terrible crime he committed. But on a stormy night at the cemetery where he rests, the secrets from his past will finally refuse to stay buried; and those he left behind will finally refuse to stay silent.
In this original, suspense-filled musical thriller by the author/composer of multi-award winning musical Thrill Me, currently touring the UK, there are enough twists, turns and surprises to keep the audience guessing up until the final shocking moments.
12th to 31st May 2015
Waterloo East Theatre
Brad Street London SE1 8TN
Book Online www.waterlooeast.co.uk Box Office 0207 928 0060
Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm Sat & Sun at 4pm
Friday 15th May 2015