If, like me, you’ve spent your entire life hoping that a show would some day come along incorporating the Greek Muses, a writer who couldn’t finish anything he started, and a fictional drag queen, then your prayers have been answered. No? Well, truth to tell me neither, but that won’t stop you having the devil of a time at David Kent’s news musical, Liberty Rides Forth at Waterloo East.
The show started out as a two-hander called The Next Big Thing when it was first workshopped at The London School of Musical Theatre. And had various incarnations until settling into its current form.
The plot, though slight and in many ways only superficially necessary, goes something like this…
Three (of the nine) Muses, the Greek Goddesses of inspiration, Callie (Calliope) (Chloe Rice), the Goddess of Epic Poetry, Thalia (Emma Scott), the Goddess of Comedy, and Ute (Euterpe) (Georgia Faith), the Goddess of Lyric Poetry (or in this case, love), have finally to finish their training, and win their spurs in becoming ‘proper’ goddesses and therefore full-time muses by working on a human subject.
The subject they choose is Trevor (William Hazell) a rather put-upon office worker who knows he has it in him to write his way out of the desk job, but never seems to be able to finish anything. It is the job of the muses to ensure that he does, thereby securing for himself the financial stability he feels he needs in order to be able to pursue ‘that girl’ in the office he’s only hitherto lusted after from afar.
All well and good until Trevor starts writing what he hopes will be a ‘commercial’ novel, and comes up with the character of Liberty, a rather pushy drag queen (Dereck Walker) who take over his life dictating what he ought to be doing, and the direction that the novel should be taking.
There is an added complication in that although the completely fictional Liberty is fully flesh and blood to the hapless Nigel, he can’t see the three muses who are there to aid him in completing his book.
To add an additional ticking clock, if the Muses fail in their mission, and Trevor doesn’t finish the book, one of them becomes mortal (the literal kiss of death on an immortal), but if Trevor DOES complete the book there’s every chance that Liberty will disappear back within its pages, so she has every incentive to stop him.
What can I say? Havoc ensues…which along the way even compasses the death of Liberty’s poor dog, Poopsie – don’t worry, no animals are harmed in this production.
All in all this is a romp, which I really don’t think tries to exist on anything other than the most superficial of entertaining levels – and it is very entertaining. The dialogue is snappy, the characters well drawn, and the songs catchy. I particularly liked the Act One ‘The Formula for Love’ for example.
All that being said, I really do think the show would benefit from another pass of David Kent’s pencil. Trevor is a bit of a wimp, and is a largely passive character. How much more successful would the plotting be if Trevor actually summoned the muses to help him?
Likewise, when Liberty appears, the plot morphs into Faust, which of necessity means a mixture of Ancient Greek and Judeo-Christian theology. It would be nice to see, and more explicitly, either one or the other.
But perhaps I’m delving too deep. Enjoy it for what it is, which is an awful lot of fun.