Soho Songs: A New Song Cycle – Crazy Coqs, London

Screenwriters: Barb Jungr and Mike Lindup

Director: Peter Glanville

Soho conjures up all sorts of magical associations for those who have lived or worked in the area for a long time, so it’s no wonder the team of writers and composers Barb Jungr and Mike Lindup found inspiration in its evocative streets. and the people they met along the way. Soho Songs: a new cycle of songs that’s exactly it, a first performance of a work-in-progress, the opportunity to test ten songs in front of the Crazy Coqs audience at the gates of this beloved district.

Set in and around a single pub, the Shangri-La, this song cycle begins at dawn and tackles the very different activities, personalities and expectations that make every day in Soho slightly different. Part nostalgic for a bygone era and nervous of a development that will erode the character of the neighborhood, each of the ten songs belongs to a different protagonist in this kaleidoscopic musical.

Jungr and Lindup have put together a piece that speaks to the very different music that Soho has to offer, but which fit perfectly into a cohesive show. There are references to musical theatre, nodding to the strip of halls along Shaftesbury Avenue with one particular number calling on Sondheim’s remarkable style to explore lost love sung by a sad punter late in the night. night who knows that “the past is out of reach”. Similarly, the opening Soho by Day The Homeless Song begins with a musical number at sunrise as the homeless community watches the comings and goings.

True to Jungr’s own style, which she has joked about in previous shows, much of Soho Songs: a new cycle of songs is quite melancholic, from the trafficked sex workers, the hidden girls lamenting ‘where we once were’ to the resilient landlady who claims to have experienced ‘all kinds of bruises’, there is something melancholy about some of these experiences. A chance to reflect on all the complex things that Soho is and was inspired by the bluesy jazz the area is renowned for.

But there are also upbeat numbers, including a fabulous disco piece called Nice Girls Shouldn’t Go to Soho which has great Abba-style harmonies, while comedic tunes such as the funky Bouncer Man and the spoken-word Estate Agent add magnitude to it. song cycle, emphasizing not just the ever-changing face of Soho itself, but the melting pot of people from all sorts of places that make it so appealing.

There’s a bit of dialogue between the characters to introduce the songs, like comments from passing strangers that provide some context, but the show could think more broadly about its outlook. Women are largely unhappy on this show, trapped in lives they didn’t want or fear potential violence, and while Edgar Wright Last night in Soho attempted to shatter the image of cozy danger, it would be good to hear from the powerful and successful women – the cheeky landlords, starlets and big-name drinkers – who contributed to its reputation.

Likewise, the show follows a pattern of same-sex solos or duets, for now there are no mixed numbers outside of the Dreaming in Soho finale for all four performers. As this show develops – and it surely will – there is an opportunity to create dialogue in the songs for both male and female voices that would add a different texture in certain places.

Just 50 minutes long and starring Lucinda Lawrence, Robbie Noonan, Nate Rogers and Kat Johns-Burke, there’s plenty to admire in what might just be the first act of Songs of Soho: A New Song Cycle. With a few more numbers, Jungr and Lindup’s plan to stage a site-specific production can only add to the allure of this endlessly fascinating location.

Reviewed on June 21, 2022


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Grace D. Erickson