Muted review at the Bunker, London – ‘powerfully performed new British musical’
When an early draft version of Muted was presented under the title After the Turn at Hoxton’s Courtyard Theatre in 2012, after just three months development, I wrote that while it still needed work, “it feels like the British equivalent to Rent, full of punchy, raw and youthful energy.”
That phrase – “The British Rent” – has made it onto the publicity for Muted’s return, but I’m happy to say that its energy has been usefully harnessed in a much tighter and more involving production, a showcase for co-composers TIm Prottey-Jones and Tori Allen-Martin’s polished and poignant songs.
Their rock and pop-based influences remain in songs that mostly internalise their characters’ thoughts and feelings rather than driving the story forward. The show draws out a mellow, moving portrait of a promising young musician, rendered mute by the loss of his mother in a hit-and-run accident. He is now cared for by his uncle, who reignites a relationship with his former girlfriend who is now living with another of his ex-band members.
Each of the strongly differentiated characters of Sarah Henley’s book are powerfully sung here. It’s probably not a spoiler to note that the mute Michael (Michael Leopold) sports a head mike throughout, but his younger alter ego (Edd Campbell Bird) is able to speak and sing for him when he can’t. Tori Allen-Martin as his former girlfriend, and Jos Slovick as the friend who has now taken up with her, provide dramatic conflict, while the wonderful Helen Hobson and Mark Hawkins as his mother and uncle provide strong support.