The first thing that strikes you about Roar Toast Productions’ new musical is that it has an overture. It’s a beautiful one, too, that hints of musical riches to come and shows off the versatility of the live band featuring piano, saxophone and horns. It’s also slightly old-fashioned, and as Mess is very much a story of the here and now, it jars slightly.
Rachel has just seen that her ex has announced his engagement, so as usual she runs to pal Adam to talk it through. Rachel believes that Adam’s got his head together, whereas Adam has problems of his own. Writers Imogen Halsey and Michael Dahl Rasmussen have created a succinct, two-hander musical that showcases their talent as actor-musicians.
The score is rich in emotional detail but it’s extremely difficult to get beyond the rather clunky book, in which Rachel and Adam unravel as fairly needy, self-absorbed individuals in need of a reality check.
Accomplished composers and musicians, Halsey and Rasmussen seem less confident as actors. The cumbersome reality of incorporating a cello and bass guitar into the staging is not helped either by Benjamin Victor’s flaccid direction, which fails to invest any level of intimacy into this otherwise engaging piece.