There are a few highlights of The State of Things, the new musical by the AC Group which plays at the Brockley Jack until Saturday. The songs, the multi-talented cast, the facial expressions of Nell Hardy, and the humour are just a few of them. But the main highlight for me is Elliot Clay. He wrote the original story with Thomas Attwood (Attwood also directs), he wrote the music and lyrics, he plays one of the main pivotal characters, Adam – a character so sweet that you are rooting for him despite him being the ‘rich kid’ – and he also delivers the songs beautifully and plays the keys with much skill.
There is just enough politics in The State of Things to root it in the here and now but not so much that it overburdens the plot and weighs it down too much. The political landscape is austerity Britain under a Tory government, and the play opens at a school which is suffering from cuts in funding. The cast plays a group of school students who play in a band together, but the school is dropping A level music. The story is interspersed with music for all the right reasons, and we see what happens when these teenagers fight for what they believe in.
As the band’s vocalist, Ruth, Hana Stewart never looks less than convincing, both when performing songs with a huge grin on her face and when acting as the teen carer to her mother. Clay as Adam is torn by his feelings for her but we are not fed an unrealistic happy ending of their relationship. The rest of the cast are also impressive and really do pick up each instrument as if it is their favourite.
There are some great songs in here and they are really given the rock treatment, but the musicians know how to funk it up too. There are also some genuinely funny laugh out loud lines.
The State of Things had rows of press critics tapping their feet and even clapping to the music. As a writing debut this really is something. It is also an important reminder to look after our education system before we lose its creative, musical edges and, with it, the talent of music graduates such as Attwood and Clay.
hattydaze rating: ****/*****
We attended The State of Things courtesy of press tickets. It plays at the Brockley Jack until Saturday 23rd September 2017.