Putting it Together a brilliant Sondheimish amalgam

Unlike other Sondheim shows, Putting it Together is an amalgam
Jane Hardy

Unlike other Sondheim shows, Putting it Together is an amalgam, albeit a brilliant Sondheimish amalgam, of his songs from elsewhere.

Bolted together with a tone as dry as a good Martini by Stephen Sondheim and Julia Mckenzie in 1992, the prevailing mood is pretty dark after the boisterous title number.

Brad Clapson introduced the evening's entertainment with loads of panache, but thereafter we were reminded that Sondheim put the bitter into bittersweet.

Take relationships, for example, marriage and the affairs that litter this piece of twentieth century musical theatre like short stories by John Updike.

In Rich and Happy, we got a sense of the materialistic impetus of this crowd, then a couple of numbers on we get Hello, Little Girl, a neat sexy duet between the predatory older guy (nice work from Nicholas Pound) and the pert cutie.

There are other types of liaison on offer too, Every Day A Little Death is the older woman's song of despair and Carol Starks, who was probably the star of the night, gave her side of the will-she-won't-she leave duet some force. My Husband the Pig delivered the downside of marriage pretty convincingly too.

But there was some romance with a capital R, and Fra Fee - vocally on top form - and Christina Tedders set off for sunsets and all that kind of thing as they embraced pretty convincingly in Unworthy of Your Love. And in Bang! they even made it to the floor.

This Blunt Fringe Productions show, directed by Stephen Whitson, made good use of the Naughton Studio at the Lyric Theatre, converted into a sassy sitting room with Chesterfield sofa and table with drinks. The cast cavorted, dropped onto the sofa, posed and reclined with panache. Humour wriggled its way through the evening, of course, and Everybody Ought to Have a Maid was delicious, courtesy of nice physical comedy from Mr Clapson and Ms Starks.

Nonetheless, numbers like Getting Married Today had the composer's trademark question mark. There is no totally happy ending with Sondheim, in spite of the finale.

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