The Stage Door Theatre: Marry Me a Little | Review

Fraught romance, broken hearts, and faded glamour in Marry Me a Little make for an evening of light entertainment, but nothing more. The outtakes of Steven Sondheim’s music are somewhat awkwardly put together into a song cycle of passing love.

Marry Me A Little - Shelley Rivers. Photo Peter Davies.
Marry Me A Little – Shelley Rivers. Photo Peter Davies.

Set in two cramped New York flats, the revue glances through the romance and emotional frustrations of two lonely lovers looking for companionship. There is very little plot to speak of, instead, the night takes us through a reflection on love, passion and desire. Fundamentally, it is a celebration of Sondheim’s exceptional ability, from his extraordinarily sharp lyrics to the ability to understand the human experience, and in this light the show is a success.

The problem, if you want to get technical, is that it is quite odd for Sondheim to be done in a revue format. Sondheim abhorred overly poetic lyrics, believing that every line should advance the plot or develop the moment. The result of this is that Sondheim’s lyrics are exceptionally specific, deliberate and unavoidably contextual. You may see the problem arising here. If you attempt to take Sondheim songs and reapply them to a different context, it feels out of place. The result of this is that the two actors Shelley Rivers and Markus Sodergren feel as though they are often resisting the lyrics in favour of the moment. Both have good chemistry though, playing well off each other and at moments taking Sondheim to its best.

That being said, I am probably overthinking it. If you love Sondheim as much as me, this evening will be an enjoyable romp through some of the lesser-known numbers in the back catalogue. It is nothing like Sondheim’s full shows, but then it isn’t trying to be, it is there to showcase some forgotten numbers and celebrate the excellence of Sondheim.

3 stars

Review by Tom Carter

The revue sets songs cut from Sondheim’s better-known musicals, as well as songs from his then-unproduced musical Saturday Night, to a dialogue-free plot about the relationship between two lonely New York single people, who are in emotional conflict during an evening in their separate one-room apartments.

Despite knowing of the other’s existence, they never get up the courage to talk to each other, though they imagine what such an encounter might be like.

Cast
Shelley Rivers
Markus Sodergren
Creatives Robert McWhir – director
Aaron Clingham – musical director
David Shields – designer
Lighting – Richard Lambert
Producer – LAMBCO Productions
Kevin Wilson PR
Dates 28 February to 13 April
https://www.stagedoortheatre.co.uk/