We Belong – Bare Productions

Creative Team: Dominic Lewis, Felicity Halfpenny, Finlay Turaball, Andrew Layton & Annie Stoner

Video Produced & Edited by Mark WIlson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Where better to begin, than with a touch of Cabaret.

Live, from The Three Sisters, or gracing your digital screens with their filmed rehearsals, Rory McKeon’s Wilkommen sets things off with a bang – and how better to reintroduce themselves to the citizens of Edinburgh, than with an exceptionally vivid and intimate showcase of some of the film and musical theatre’s stand-out numbers.

Dividing itself into four acts to ensure not an ounce of talent is skipped, We Belong begins with Showstoppers, before dipping into the murky depths of Villainous numbers. Before whisking us back to High School before the expectant Encore. Starting as they mean to go on, the Showstopper segment is an expected start, with big belters and the more traditional numbers – Zoe Brookes performing an excellent tribute to Liza with Don’t Rain on my Parade among the midst of toe-tapping numbers.

Slowing down from the musical beats of the Westend hits, ripples of a familiar family-centric empire rear their villainous vaudeville faces. And while the obvious Disney classics are the full shebang, Bare Productions draw from the cesspit of antagonists across the musical theatre from the obvious to the more subversive.

Rachael Anderson makes additions to the under-sea classic Poor Unfortunate Souls, giving Pat Carroll’s notorious role as the sea witch Ursula a rather distinct Scot’s twang. Why, there’s no reason not to catch this variation of the character smoking outside the Bingo halls or waiting for a number thirty bus. While Masters of the stage, Alex Singh and Louisa Everett’s Master of The House from the thunderstorm which is Les Miserables. Doing more than providing an exceptional demonstration of skill, but widening the scope of effort and planning which goes into the production, shaking up the method of delivery and crowd interaction.

There’s a distinct presence of personal touch and thought, not only in the cast’s interactions and enjoyment of one another’s numbers but in the structure of the show. Charged, even with the digital production, energy filters between numbers with a sense of thrill for where the show will continue to move.

Elements of vocals range, expectantly, with a few sneaking boundaries of speak-singing with rougher edges than the remainder of the show, but there’s an undoubted sense of entertainment and revelry. Bare Productions maintain their determination and effort, no performance, even those lacking somewhat, are phoned in or shoehorned.

Working exceptionally well together, with the Cabaret stage of The Three Sisters only capable of holding three to four at a time, the group works well in compact spaces. Perhaps best demonstrated in I Put a Spell on You with the always charismatic Andrew Gardiner and Darren Johnson. Or the touching manoeuvre to the High School and Encore with and difficult to master You Will Be Found from Dear Evan Hansen, championed by Johnson, Brookes and Singh. All building to a titular performance of We Belong, a rallying cry and guttural rumble of determination and pride from the cast.]

We Belong showcases an evolution of formula, and where others may evaluate it as a round-up of pieces, it instead places a firm foundation on the re-invention of artforms, chopped and altered for differing audiences and communities. We Belong is less a repertoire of numbers, than engorgement of contemporary cabaret with a resounding belt of their continued (and deserved) place even after these difficult months.

An open, and welcoming celebration of individualism, the tweaks and changes make a stamp of every performer of the company – from behind to centre stage, and welcomes audiences to The Three Sisters, and continued fans digitally, that Bare Productions continues to encapsulate and celebrate, what they love most. Performance. And be damned what anyone else thinks of that.

Bare Production’s We Belong runs digitally until February 2nd. Tickets for which can be purchased here.

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