As I sit at my desk, a blank screen with a flashing cursor in front of me, I sometimes say a silent prayer asking for some form of divine intervention to give me an idea of what to write. This is the same problem facing the hero of David Kent’s new musical Liberty Rides Forth! Which has just started its run at the Waterloo East Theatre.
In a suburban flat, things are not going well for Trevor (William Hazell). He has a simple life plan, write a hugely successful novel, make millions and get the girl – someone from his office called Susie who he has loved from afar for a long, long time. Unfortunately for Trevor, his plan has one major problem – he can’t write. Trevor is keen, he has done his research on how to write and has started lots of books in various styles but, to date, he hasn’t actually finished one and been able to add those magical words ‘the end’ to his magnum opus. Fortunately, Trevor is about to get some assistance in the shape of three trainee muses – Callie (Chloe Rice), Thalia (Emma Scott) and Ute (Georgie Faith) – who are hoping to inspire Trevor, get him to finish a book, then graduate from Muse Academy and take their places in the divine chorus. However, thanks to some impatience on Trevor’s part, instead of calling on his muses to help, he manages to summon the loud, brash, morally questionable creature Liberty (Dereck Walker) who takes Trevor’s writing and life down an altogether unexpected route.
There is a lot to like in Liberty Rides Forth! Three years in the making and Writer David Kent has produced a pretty funny musical around the theme of ‘careful what you wish for’ with a nice combination of Faust meets Little Shop that moves along at a nice pace. I did have a couple of issues with the story, particularly over Trevor and his initial motivation for wanting to be a writer which just struck me as slightly unbelievable. And without giving too much away, there was an issue over Trevor’s income which confused me. However, forgetting these minor points, the story itself is pretty darned good. The songs – with additional music from MD Michael Roulston – were nice touches that added to the story and never felt out of place, the way they can sometimes in a musical. Susan Raasay’s direction was light and very natural looking and I have to say I loved Jasmine Davies’ costumes for the three muses – contemporary but maintaining a firm link with ancient Greek.
The muses themselves were nicely portrayed and Chloe, Emma and Georgie worked well together, keeping each muse’s character (poetry, comedy and romance) individual but interlocking nicely to provide a coherent, focussed single muse. Dereck Walker has a fine line to tread with Liberty. She must be bad but likeable and a ‘bloke in a frock’ but without going from drag queen to over the top pantomime dame. Dereck not only walks that tightrope but does it with style. Liberty is a total crowd-pleasing villain. You know in your sensible head what she is doing is not necessarily right, but your heart is saying, “hey, its Liberty isn’t it?” Again, costume-wise, Jasmine has made Liberty very distinctive – vampish red but still with a nod back to the greek costumes of the muses. Liberty is sassy, bold and ruthless and its impossible not love her a tiny bit especially in the moments with just her and Trevor. Ah yes, Trevor. Our hero is basically an ‘everyman’ type of guy. A bit bland, a bit boring and you have the feeling his life consists of “get up, go to work, dream about Susan, go home, try and write, go to bed and repeat ad infinitum.” Whilst he is everything the story needs in a dull anti-hero, and he is nicely played by William Hazell, I never found myself warming to Trevor as a character. His motives struck me as slightly dodgy, and his obsession with Susan felt a little too much like stalking at times.
Whilst it is not a monumental story of good versus evil with deep moral dilemmas to be resolved, Liberty Rides Forth! is a fun musical given life by a really great cast and overall spending an evening with Liberty, Trevor et al, is definitely a great way to kick off the winter blues and avoid the dreaded Autumn Flu.
Review by Terry Eastham
Liberty, a mischievous drag queen, unexpectedly springs to life from the pages of Trevor’s new novel. The hapless author is attempting to write a best-seller to win over Susie, the woman he loves from afar; but now suddenly he and the three apprentice Muses sent to inspire him are fighting for Susie’s very survival!
Arriving at Waterloo East Theatre via the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringes, this is a brand new full-length musical full of toe-tapping tunes and delicious comedy.
Liberty Rides Forth!
Book, music and lyrics David Kent
Musical Director Michael Roulston
Director Susan Raasay
Cast Liberty – Dereck Walker
Trevor – William Hazell
Performance Dates October 2nd 2018 – October 22nd 2018
Tuesday – Saturday, 7.30pm
matinees Sundays at 4pm
Running Time 120 mins (not including interval)
Venue Waterloo East Theatre, Brad St, Lambeth, London SE1 8TN