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Help! We Are Still Alive at Seven Dials Playhouse

This is a two-handed 85-minute chamber-style musical which has a great deal going for it.

HELP! We Are Still Alive - Elijah Ferreira and Jade Johnson. Photo by Danny Kaan.
HELP! We Are Still Alive – Elijah Ferreira and Jade Johnson. Photo by Danny Kaan.

Jass (Jade Johnson) and Finn (Elijah Ferreira) have survived the apocalypse and believe they may be the only people on earth left alive. They exist on tinned food ‘acquired’ from local supermarkets and are “good friends” – except when Finn asks Jade to marry him… We are told that Help! We Are Still Alive is a “hilarious, gig-style queer, comedy musical about keeping the romance alive when everything else is dead as a doornail”.

What makes this new musical a bit different is the music and lyrics by Tim Gilvin who has the gift for catchy melodies and harmonies, such as the Pineapple Song, which is memorable even on first hearing, and the inventive, sometimes poignant, often witty words. Both actors are able to use the music and lyrics imaginatively to enhance their portrayals. Both have attractive singing voices and Ferreira also often accompanies himself deftly on the guitar. Benjamin McQuigg, whom we do not see, even at the bows, is the superb Musical Director, getting every nuance he can out of his keyboard.

The book is by Imogen Palmer. Often it is funny, but when the playwright tries to add depth to the situation, which is treated surprisingly light-heartedly throughout, the dialogue quickly becomes stilted and, at times, embarrassing to listen to. In fact, we find ourselves longing for the next song to lift the show, which is a shame as Palmer clearly has something to say – she is just not sure what or how to say it.

Lu Herbert designed set and costumes, the thrust stage often appearing too small for the rostrum that dominates it. At one point Finn nearly fell into the audience because there was not enough room to negotiate a path around it. The rostrum also appears unnecessary for most of the action. Costumes are bright and cheery to contrast with the extreme blackness of the set.

Lighting is by Lucia Sanchez Roldan, occasionally leaving the actors’ faces in darkness, especially upstage right!

The director Georgie Rankcom has the knack of seamlessly blending dialogue and song, but has tried to ‘improve’ many of the scenes by getting the actors to speak very fast, which means that important information is occasionally lost.

I enjoyed this show: in spite of its lack of depth and the often awkward dialogue it is often amusing and the quality of the performances and especially the music make it well worth a visit.
3 Star Review

Review by John Groves

Jass and Finn have survived the apocalypse – but can their relationship take the strain? What do you do when the last person on earth no longer floats your boat?

From the team who brought you the smash-hit Anyone Can Whistle, Help! We are Still Alive is a hilarious, gig-style queer, comedy musical about keeping the romance alive when everything else is dead as a doornail. It’s 28 Days Later meets When Harry Met Sally with catchy and heart-breaking songs.

Help! We Are Still Alive
By Imogen Palmer

Finn Elijah Ferreira (He/Him)
Jass Jade Johnson (She/Her)

Book Imogen Palmer (She/They)
Music & Lyrics Tim Gilvin (He/Him)
Director Georgie Rankcom (They/Them)
Musical Director Ben McQuigg (He/Him)
Set and Costume Designer Lu Herbert (They/Them)
Lighting Designer Lucía Sánchez Roldán (She/Her)
Sound Designer Simon Arrowsmith (He/They)
Stage Manager Imogen Brown (She/Her)


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  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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