Starting Here, Starting Now is a no holes barred exploration of love. Love in all of its glory (and un-glory), in what is a delightfully wry yet delightfully honest evening of pure talent. As a welcome reminder of the joys of intimate and independent theatre, the cast of three (plus the keyboardist) put on a first-class evening.
Starting Here, Starting Now is a musical revue, with songs mostly dedicated to the exploration of love and relationships. Whilst not the most original of concepts, the array of styles, genres and different approaches really do make this a unique event. No matter your view on modern romance, I have confidence in saying that you will relate to at least one – if not many – of the attitudes explored on stage. Starting Here, Starting Now provides an excellent opportunity to tap into your inner cynic, your long lost romantic or to feel that gut-wrenching tug of heartache. Each song is as unique as the characters telling its story and, with such an array on display, it is impossible to get bored.
Being such a small cast, each member is uncompromisingly exposed, making it hard to not compare and contrast the individual performers. Whilst all three are vocally near-perfect, Nikki Bentley stands out as the full package. Vocally, she is faultless – bringing an air of relaxation when she steps out to sing and inspiring absolute faith in her performances. But vocals aren’t her only strength. Her characters, her facial expressions and her palpable charisma make her performance an absolute joy to watch. This is undoubtedly a challenging show to pull off and, for me, the show and some of the cast do take a while to settle in and get going. At times there is notable stiffness, or at least a little reluctance to fully embrace each character. But, by the end, Noel Sullivan in particular ends up absolutely revelling in flamboyance, taking complete ownership of the stage and show!
For the most part, the chosen costumes give off the impression that they are selected from the performers’ own wardrobes – real and comfortable, if not a bit of a jarring mix of office-chic versus casual fashion. That is until three overly trite, gold sequined jackets (complete with top hat and cane) are whipped out for a bit of cabaret cliché. With visible creases, it is as if the jackets have just been dug out of the back of the high school costume cupboard! This of course doesn’t detract from the standard of the evening but it certainly caused the odd smirk to flash around the room.
Overall, all three put on a sensational performance!
What is particularly interesting about shows such as this one is that the audience ends up, not developing an emotional connection to the characters as one would expect, but rather to the performers who play them. And this is so true for Starting Here, Starting Now – Nikki, Gina and Noel are a triumph and I wish them luck with the rest of the run of the show.