As the new year's bells run loud, no one could have predicted what 2020 would have in store for us all. As we all watched Prime Minister Boris Johnson each day at 6pm tell us to “stay indoors” to keep safe, the day that theatres would return seemed impossible. Thankfully now these times are passed, and theatre is back, and this show highlights two performers’ experiences of being forced away from the stage, working in a supermarket and a care home. 2020 the Musical is an upbeat retelling of a year many of us wish we could forget, showing the good within our communities and highlighting the amazing things people can do at a time when nothing is normal.
Tackling a topic like 2020 and making it entertaining is a daunting task. The show’s writer, director, choreographer and Producer, Natasha Mould, succeeds in striking a balance between upbeat whilst also acknowledging the tough year many went through and the difficult circumstances in many lives. The times when care home patients weren't allowed visitors and people couldn't mix is explored and given emotional weight. Lighter moments like the quest for loo rolls and grannies given their first jabs – which turns into brilliant rap and tap musical numbers – are equally entertaining.
Some memorable figures from 2020 also given the spotlight include Sir Captain Tom, who is said to be one of the care home residents who raises Millions for the NHS. Also, an accurate and funny parody of Boris Johnson, played by Oly Britten, is a recurring character with the musical number, Stay in Doors being super catchy. One of the lead characters, Adam, played by Tom Watson, career journeys are also comedically highlighted with two numbers focussing on his time working in Lidl. The only character that didn't work as well as it could was the busker/ narrator character. Samatha Richards playing the busker/ narrator is a great performer but feel that the character doesn't work as well as it could. Some of the songs sang by the narrator could have flowed better being acted within the scene, not looking into it.
As it’s an Edinburgh Fringe production, the show must get in and out within minutes and this slightly impacted the sound and microphone quality. Additionally, the transitions could have been better, with some scenes just finishing, the lights going out, and then the scene changing.
Overall, this is a strong musical. With a few tweaks and a permanent theatre, 2020 the Musical could have life after the festival.
2020 The Musical runs at Underbelly Bristo Square until the 27th of August. Book tickets here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/2020-the-musical