At the age of 17, Henry Fraser had a diving accident that left him paralysed from the shoulders down. This musical is based on his memoir that traced his youth as a star rugby player and his subsequent journey towards a new life as a painter of distinction.
With music and lyrics by Nick Butcher and Tom Ling and a book by Joe White, Luke Sheppard’s production defies all expectations.
The casting of two actors as Henry 1 (Jonny Amies) and Henry 2 (Ed Larkin) is a stroke of genius, especially as Larkin is a disabled actor.
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Henry’s brothers are utterly convincing as a tight fraternity. Trick Caroline plays Lady Linzi Hateley as Henry’s mother delivers her key song of shock and despair with a wounding energy, and Alasdair Harvey as Henry’s father Andrew is deceptively moving as a man trying to maintain an equilibrium he doesn’t feel.
What might have lapsed into Hollywood schmaltz is saved by shards of humour that punctuate the piece, notably through Agnes (Amy Trigg), the wheelchair-using physiotherapist who cajoles, encourages and bullies Henry back into life.
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Mood shifts are superbly conveyed by Luke Halls’ video design that sweeps the central acting area with washes of colour, and Mark Smith’s choreography is tight and muscular, with a spectacular aerial coup de theatre in the latter stages.
The score is a potent mix of anthemic pop, rock and balladry, confidently played by the superb band.
At sohoplace until November 25 Tickets: 0330 333 5962
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