The Things Between Us
Written by Luke Di Somma
Directed by Shane Bosher.
At Papa Hou in the YMCA until Sunday.
Commissioned by the Christchurch Arts Festival
Is there anything more bewildering, astonishing and intoxicating than a human heart filled with love?
A new musical by Christchurch composer Luke Di Somma is an emotionally intense, carefully observed, funny and sad meditation on modern love.
It has a big heart that swells with many complex and familiar emotions, expressing them through beautifully constructed melodies and sharply written, witty lyrics.
Di Somma has followed up That Bloody Woman, his hit punk musical about suffragette Kate Sheppard, with a contemporary show that bristles with sincerity and passion.
The musical perfectly captures the intricacies of modern relationships, from pangs of Facebook envy to the deletion of dating apps as a sign of commitment.
It is more finely focused piece of musical theatre than That Bloody Woman, which he wrote with playwright Gregory Cooper. This new show is contained to just four actors and a single setting, but it has the same energy and sense of purpose. But, this time, Di Somma is more concerned with the personal than the political.
The show follows a relationship between Dom and Sam from their first date through to those first tentative commitments. But the romantic comedy plot is given a high concept gender twist as four actors the play two parts we see different gender combinations at different stages of the relationship.
The consistently strong cast portray these two characters with sincerity and subtlety, mastering the songs and complex lyrics with realism and clarity. And they are backed up by an impeccable band of piano, bass, drums and cello. The show is also helped by Shane Bosher's impeccable direction. The potentially confusing high concept is executed with precision, sharp movement and clean simplicity.
And while the tunes are not as catchy as That Bloody Woman, this has more of an emotional punch.
In fact, at times the show felt a little too emotionally intense. It could have done with some light relief about two thirds through to provide a cathartic release for all these highly-charged emotions. I felt a little emotionally wrung-out by the end of the show.
But that is a small grumble in the face of a very satisfying and passionate musical that rather magnificently captures, in song and lyric, the challenge of falling in love when you are not ready, the grand sweep of human emotions and the difficult transition from the fun 20s to the more meaningful 30s.
Di Somma has followed up That Bloody Woman with confidence and style.
He is a very talented composer of musical theatre, brimming with potential and a desire to use his talent to say something urgent and intense. I can't wait to see what he does next.