With the invention of the camera phone in recent years, the subject of photography and its interest has grown and become a lot more mainstream thanks to the use of apps such as Instagram. People spend some minutes, some maybe hours fixing their face, filtering here and there, striving for perfection. Vain, self-indulgent, you might say? Those are some of the same words I’d also use to describe Exposure the Musical at the St. James Theatre.
Jimmy Tucker (David Albury) is a young cameraman, who’s dead father (Kurt Kansley) was famous for his nature photography. Following his path, Jimmy aspires to expose the poor and struggling people to the world. However, when offered a chance to promote his work to the mainstream, he is challenged to find and photograph the seven deadly sins that exist around modern London within 24 hours. This is both a show that is on a race with this mission as well as looking into the price and integrity of fame.
Whilst this sounds like a show at break-neck speed, none of the main action here in the plot starts until Act Two, essentially meaning that the entirety of the first act hour is slowly spent building useless context around, quite frankly, a very thin plot. Whilst Albury may have a solid recording voice, none of the characters become likeable. The obsession for fame and attention is naturally an unlikeable and disconnecting topic. So how Mike Dyer had a desire to write such a show is the main mystery here.
One pro I would mention is the use of video technology and projection from Timothy Bird. I have never been a fan of projections in the past and have always felt it to be a cheap way of creating a setting. However, for a production that is centred around imagery and photography, projection proves to be useful for such a show. I found it exciting to see the technical capabilities of the St James Theatre, especially with such highly anticipated productions of The Last Five Years and Rent arriving later on in the year.
Unfortunately, Mike Dyer fails to bring any musical excitement alongside the visuals, but more confusion if anything. The score features everything from cheesy rap, guitar-driven rock and Ireland’s upcoming folky Eurovision entry with some useless dancing in the background. Both the music and choreography is sporadic generically, failing to create any sense of cohesion in what style it wants to be.
The lack of emotional and musical interest throughout, along with a disconnecting plot, makes the overall impression of Exposure very similar to a photograph — flat.
Reviewed by Barry O’Reilly
Photo: Pamela Raith
EXPOSURE THE MUSICAL plays at St James Theatre until 27 August 2016