Sunday 16th October 2022 at The Other Palace, London
Reviewer: Jonathan Walfisz
In a packed auditorium, the singer and actor Ellie Nunn takes to a small stage in The Other Place. She sings ‘Who Wouldn’t Wish on a Star’, a short song that feels like the opener of a classic fairytale.
It’s a modest but perfectly shaped number that lays the groundwork for the evening’s musical showcase. Immediately, the evening’s host Dominic Adam Griffin replaces Nunn for ‘Your Words Become Your World’. Its modern beat and fast-paced lyrics are soon met by an eight-person strong chorus and the entire room’s attention is in Griffin’s tight grip.
For the next hour and a bit, Griffin keeps the audience rapt with a selection of songs from his musicals ‘Fairy Boys’ and ‘Chicken Coop’, as well as some charming anecdotes to connect the pieces.
‘Fairy Boys’ is Griffin’s adaptation of Daniel Tawse’s recent young adult novel following a queer teenager trying to connect with his distant father after his mother’s death. Tawse’s book is a tender tale of finding yourself and dealing with mental health issues.
In Griffin’s hands, the material reverberates around the room with tunes that radiate the growing confidence of its lead character Star Stevenson. ‘Weird’ has Star, played delicately by Liam Dean, asking his closest friend why he doesn’t fit in over a snappy dialogue that closes out the first half of the evening. By the second half’s ‘What Am I Waiting For?’ Star finally steps out of his shackles to proudly state his worth. It’s emphatic stuff and Griffin’s knack for a belting chorus elevates each theme to its deserved stature.
The songs of ‘Fairy Boys’ are interlaced with Griffin’s other project ‘Chicken Coop’, a bold take reimagining the 2008 Clint Eastwood film ‘Changeling’ as a devastating musical. The pieces Griffin has created for this stand apart from so much of the West End’s musical theatre scene right now. Griffin doesn’t shy away from the murky depths of the source material with George Advidson masterfully capturing a conflicted priest in ‘The Truth Will Out’.
But it’s with the solo and dialogue songs that Griffin has composed for the female leads of ‘Chicken Coop’ that the room comes most alive. Tricia Adele-Turner and Charlie Johnson both shine as actors and singers during ‘That’s Not My Son’, as they take turns to communicate the horror of realising their returned child is not their own.
The star of the show has to be Griffin though. He’s the thread that brings together the eclectic tapestry of musical numbers. The showcase is an opportunity for Griffin to test his bold musical concepts in front of a crowd. It’s essentially a pitch meeting with more singing. By all measures it’s a success. Griffin’s visual storytelling straddles genres and emotions seamlessly. He’s a powerful songwriter and these musicals deserve to be seen on a bigger stage.
Your Words Become Your World has completed its run at The Other Palace, but you can check out the theatre’s current listings here.