Review: A Lost Place, Cardiff University School of Music

A Lost Place, Sunday 19th February, Cardiff University School of Music, Reviewer: Mel Lynch

Described in the productions synopsis as ‘a new musical which provides no answers, just more questions’, on reflection, I have to agree. Both composed and directed by Callum Spooner, A lost Place is a new musical that I had the opportunity to experience at Cardiff’s University’s very own School of Music.

The narrative follows the lives of four University students as they struggle with their personal issues whilst trying to achieve their goals, ranging from solving an impossible maths equation to becoming a star on stage. With a cast of only four, the musical predominantly focused upon social outcast and Maths ‘fresher’ Raymond played by second year music student David Russell. Unfortunately, the acting was somewhat inconsistent and dubious throughout with a lack of emotion at crucial times during the plot, which resulted in the characters being hard to relate to despite their best efforts.

As explained prior to the production, the lead actor had to pull out only a week before opening so the Director (Spooner) who already had commitments as the conductor of the band, had to step in as the role of Daniel. Regrettably this inconvenience was quite evident to the audience as Spooner’s delivery of dialogue was rather rushed. On more than one occasion Spooner had to conduct the band whilst centre stage trying to play the role of Daniel. One thing that cannot be faulted is his physical enthusiasm as conductor where his exaggerated movements were like nothing I had seen before.

Another redeeming quality of the production were the impressive performances from the band. Well timed and professional, their efforts were commendable despite lack of variation in the composed music. In addition to this, the singing was generally of a good standard where the final joint performance of ‘He was my life’ showcased the vocal talents of the cast, in particular from Sara Davies who played aspiring actress Eliana.

Spooner describes his emergent musical influences as a wide range of popular styles through Jazz to 20th century art music. Claiming his main challenge was fusing disparate musical styles in a way which didn’t sound artificial or forced, which sadly appeared to be a challenge not entirely overcame upon my viewing.

Nevertheless, it has to be said that composing, directing and starring in a musical is no easy task to undertake, certainly something many would struggle to even attempt. Therefore, credit where credit is due to Spooner’s creativity and bravery despite the obvious obstacles he faced.

by Mel Lynch