Review: Shift+Alt+Right

This innovative production by ALP Musicals of Hilmi Jaidin’s new digital musical Shift+Alt+Right points towards the future of new musical theatre

“I can’t hear any of you, you’re on mute”

Theatre folk are nothing if not resourceful and adapting to the pandemic naturally demands creative thinking. But it takes something special to be at the vanguard of such a movement and that is where Adam Lenson and ALP Musicals find themselves as they lead new musical theatre into a brave new world.

Written and composed byHilmi Jaidin and directed by Lenson, Shift+Alt+Right is a brand new digital musical that was created to exist online in a self-described hybrid model that blends live performance from a remote company of four and video work from a technological hub, with no two shows being exactly the same.

I am loathe to say too much about the show as over its 50 minutes, it manages to pack a lot in and there’s an element of twisty surprise (although it was only once I had started this review that the point of the title actually clicked with me, d’oh!). What is great about Jaidin’s writing is how unafraid he is of going dark, touching on subjects that feel so powerfully resonant today.

What I will say is that Max Alexander-Taylor is a revelation as Jay, a young man having a mare of a day and seeking refuge in an online world that seems to offer more than anything IRL. Joanna Clarke, Ashley Goh and Andrew Langtree support him well as three various important figures in his life and the cumulative effect of all this endeavour proves rather thought-provoking, especially in terms of what one has been led to expect when seeing a musical.

A quick note too on the impressiveness and affordability of ALP’s approach. £5 is a brilliant price point and the option to buy solidarity tickets, for those experiencing financial instability, at the same time is something that feels much more realistic than, say, buying another ticket at Donmar prices, as commendable their scheme is.

I’d also recommend the post-show Zoom Q&A sessions – last night’s went on longer than the show itself and was blissfully good fun, just like being in the bar afterwards and relishing in the communal joys of theatre. Plus Jaidin seems like the most adorbs person ever – how could such dark material have emanated from him…! At a moment when the future of musical theatre feels up in the air, it is exciting to find people who have a clear vision of what it could be.      

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