Musical review: 35mm – A Musical Exhibition

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: 35mm – A Musical Exhibition at Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49), reviewed by Matt Trueman

Cheering as it is to see a non-linear musical, Ryan Scott Oliver’s so-called musical exhibition comes across more like a songwriter’s sketchbook than a full piece.

Each song in 35MM jumps off from a photograph taken by Matthew Murphy.

A set of playful portraits taken in a high school hallway becomes bitchy prom queen pop with plenty of snap; a shot of a couple facing in opposite directions births an aching break-up ballad.

It allows Scott Oliver heaps of stylistic variety, but leaves him scrabbling about for a thematic skeleton.

Ostensibly, it is the aesthetics of photography – questions of absence, artistic intentions and unequivocal interpretations – but because musicals do feeling better than thinking, substance gets swapped for sentiment. There is a reason Susan Sontag stuck to prose.

All that said, Scott Oliver’s songs are really interesting – from the catchy Why Must We Tell Them Why? to the discordant Crazy Town – and, even if Katie Pessman’s direction could help us out more, they are given plenty of pep by a promising young cast of drama school students, from which Beth Burrows and Benjamin Powell stand out.

Until 24 August. Today 6pm

Originally published in The Scotsman

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