The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings
A CurtainUp London Review
Exposure the Musical — Life Through a Lens was conceived, written, composed, and with lyrics written by and produced by Mike Dyer. The central character, Jimmy Tucker (David Albury) is the son of Bob Tucker, a prize winning photographer (Kurt Kansley) killed by a poison arrow in Sudan. His son Jimmy grows up in London and becomes a jobbing photographer. Jimmy knows Pandora (Niamh Perry) from school who has a career as a well known pop singer. As an adult and working as a photographer, Jimmy meets Tara (Natalie Anderson) who is homeless and living on the streets, surviving by selling lethally sharp angels made out of cut Coke cans.
The Faustian type plot occurs when a rich businessman Miles Mason (Michael Greco), and Pandora's manager, offers Jimmy a contract to photograph each of the seven deadly sins in a current London setting. It was at this point that I lost the plot or rather the plot lost me and I wasn't sure whether the photographs were an elaborate blackmail plot or something else. The temptation scene occurs on the London Eye in a private pod with champagne and spectacular views.
The production is framed by a spectacular photo montage of black and white iconic photographs. Getty Images and Canon have sponsored Exposure. To the song "Rainmaker" we see Jimmy's father photographing an African Medicine Man type figure just before he is killed. We have been introduced to Jimmy by a photograph, the scan of him as a foetus was sent to his father in Africa. We then see him as a baby except that the only concession to his youth is to photograph him in his underpants. We follow Jimmy's education in a London comprehensive school, the edges of the stage showing those glass and paneling rectangular boxes that served as comprehensive schools, the monotonous architecture of the 1960s and 70s with graffiti as it was then.
Some fairly mature kids give us an exciting dance number from choreographer Lindon Barr. The dancers somersault, front or back flip in the air, even one precariously pregnant girl in school uniform. Tony Blair intones his famous triplet, "Education, education, education." This is the best dance number and it is a shame there aren't more like it. The ballads are sung well by Jimmy and Tara but some of the louder numbers hit notes that were discordant. The last photographs of celebrities who died too young are moving: Marilyn, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Janis Joplin. There are iconic images of Charlie Chaplin, Hitler and Churchill and I think I saw one of Leo Frank, the hanging victim in Parade.
With eight lyricists and six composers is it any wonder the show is uneven? Exposure feels unready for prime time despite the beautiful photographic images and some good performances, especially from David Albury. I liked the songs "Rainmaker" and "Bandit Country". One thing I learnt, paparazzi is Italian for mosquito.
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Music, Book and Lyrics by Mike Dyer
Directed by Phil Willmott and latterly by Mike Dyer
Starring: David Albury, Natalie Anderson, Michael Greco, Kurt Kansley, Niamh Perry
With: Andy Barke, Rhiannon Duncan, Zeph Gould, Stevie Mahoney, Cassie Rogers, Lauren Stroud, Jahrel Thomas, Manny Tsakanika, Ella-Rose Whitehouse
Music collaborations with Lucy Abbott, Matt Cheadle, Philip Cohen, Sara Eker Peter, Vince Hudson, Fred Johanson, Dawn Joseph, Tim Maple, Clayton Moss, Charles Olins, Mark Street, Adrian Wyatt.
Choreographer: Lindon Barr
Set and Video Design: Timothy Bird
Costume Design: Carla Goodman
Lighting Design: Ben Cracknell
Sound Design: Ben Harrison
Composer: David Shrubsole
Musical Director: Mark Collins
Running time: Two hours 20 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 0844 264 2140
Booking to 27th August 2016
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 1st August 2016 performance at the St James Theatre, Palace Street, London SW1 (Rail/Tube Victoria)
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