Stage Door Review 2019

UNRAVELLED

Jul 6, 2019

✭✭

music, book, lyrics and direction by Andrew Seok

Chaos & Light, Toronto Fringe Festival, Grace Toronto Church, 383 Jarvis St., Toronto

July 5-13, 2019

Composer, lyricist and director Andrew Seok’s semi-staged musical Unravelled aims to combine three great love stories into one, but in the process deprives each story of its uniqueness.

From myth we have Orpheus (Seok) and his wife Eurydice (Victoria Houser). Shakespeare’s Romeo (Keenan Smits) is re-imagined as Eurydice’s brother and Juliet (Michaela Mar) as Orpheus's sister. Then there are James and Della Young (Jeff Lillico and Lauren Larson), the couple from O. Henry’s story "The Gift Of The Magi". Della becomes Juliet’s Nurse and James the apothecary who sells Juliet a sleeping potion and Romeo poison.    

The problem with Seok’s book is that Orpheus does not travel to the Underworld to win back Eurydice; Romeo and Juliet do not die; and James does not sell his watch nor Della her hair to buy each other Christmas presents. Robbed of the plots that make each story so iconic, all three couples become simply three couples in love.

Seok has a gift for melody in the grand style of Les Misérables. He fashions nearly every song or duet as a towering emotional showstopper, with the unintended consequence that there’s little variety in the music.

Still, the singing from all six principals and from the seven-member chorus is powerful and precise. If only Seok’s devoted his gorgeous music to a faithful retelling of one of his three stories, the result might be more dramatically involving. 

Runtime: 75 minutes 

Christopher Hoile

Note: This review appeared in NOW Magazine on July 6, 2019.

Photo: (bottom row) Jeff Lillico, Laura Larson, Victoria Houser, Andrew Seok, Keenan Smits, Michaela Mar; (top row) Zoe Fiddes, Alex Wierzbiki, Ted Powers, Timothy Ng, Ashaya Babiuk, Lee-orr Orbach, Emily Masurkevitch and Germaine Konji. © 2019 Chaos & Light.

For tickets, visit fringetoronto.com.