S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Desperately Seeking Susan

In a musical, most of the songs should help further the plot. This is where the brand-new musical of Desperately Seeking Susan falls down. With one exception, all its songs are songs from Blondie. They have the right feel, the right sound. In a few cases, they help further the plotline. ("Dreaming" as a framing song; "Call Me", but only in exerpts at the beginning; "One Way or Another" as a killer's song; "Atomic".) In others, their lyrics were indecipherable, so it's hard to say. I blamed the sound engineers. G. and H. blamed Blondie for writing songs in which the lyrics are largely indecipherable. They should know. In most, however, it seemed as if songs were shoe-horned into their location in the musical because it was the closest available fit in Blondie's oeuvre.

That said, it wasn't a bad musical. It just wasn't a good one either. I've not seen the movie, but the plot, as portrayed on stage, seemed to be promising material for a musical, with plenty of action and plenty of introspection. That there are romances and a happy ending doesn't hurt either. A bored housewife in New Jersey wistfully follows the exciting life of people who leave each other personal ads in the newspaper. One of those who does - and who received them - is Susan, a woman-of-the-world with few scruples. Over two eventful days, their lives become intertwined and swapped while mixed up in a jewellery heist.

The singing was solid. The staging was ingenious, with good use of multiple levels. The swimming pool was nicely done. The costuming was evocative although, as G. or H. said, it looked as if the people in N.J. were living in the early 70s, while those in NY were living in the '80s. The plot is set in '78 or '79. But I wasn't drawn in at all to the plot until over halfway through the first act. (C. observed that the musical began in the wrong place. The opening scene at the hair salon was distracting and not wholly relevant.) It all seemed entirely competent, but ultimately a musical co-existing with its music, rather than immersed in it.

Note: The theatre couldn't have been more than a third full, and this was technically opening week (although it's been in public rehearsals for several). We were moved to the central stalls from our original tickets up in the upper dress circle. If you want to see it - if you're a huge fan of the movie or Blondie, perhaps - go soon.

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