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Cover My Tracks review at Old Vic, London – ‘captivating gig-theatre’

Jade Anouka and Charlie Fink in Cover My Tracks at the Old Vic, London Jade Anouka and Charlie Fink in Cover My Tracks at the Old Vic, London

Staged with captivating simplicity, David Greig and Noah and the Whale frontman Charlie Fink’s new musical two-hander Cover My Tracks is a blissful hour-and-a-little-bit of contemplative, gently poetic storytelling and wistful, folksy guitar music.

It’s actually more gig-theatre than musical, and although tonally different and musically miles away, Max Webster’s production is strongly reminiscent of Sabrina Mahfouz’s garage-inflected fringe hit With a Little Bit of Luck in its winning mix of rich, rambling narrative and hummable tunes.

Jade Anouka plays Sarah, a chirpy ex-hotel porter whose chance encounter with a famous musician – Fink’s troubled Frank – one evening begins a downbeat, faintly autobiographical, not-quite-love story that takes them both on a journey of self-discovery, from the brink of suicide in a grubby hotel room to the shores of a remote Scottish loch, via a whirlwind, whistle stop band tour of the UK.

Death, depression, grief and the impossibility of modern living recur through Greig’s book like refrains through a pop song, but always with a refreshing lack of morbidness and a winning, wry humour.

As the lively, likeable Anouka delivers the narrative, Fink sits idly by, strumming his guitar with modest nonchalance, his interwoven score a plaintive paean echoing with notes of Alex Turner and Paul Simon.

Webster’s framing, all silhouettes and subtly shifting washes of colour, is arrestingly beautiful. In fact, the whole thing is.

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A captivating, contemplative new two-handed gig-theatre piece about love, loss and living on the edge