Review: Street Songs – A Busker’s Tale, Golden Goose Theatre

Some fantastic musicianship underscores the humble charm of Street Songs – A Busker’s Tale at the Golden Goose Theatre

“If you’re not playing
You’re not earning”

As SplitLip celebrate the extraordinary success of Operation Mincemeat winning Best New Musical at the Oliviers, much has rightly been made of its developmental journey to the West End, through any numbber of shorter runs at fringe theatres, refining and refining the show. I’m not necessarily predicting the same trajectory for Street Songs – A Busker’s Tale (but if it does happen, you heard it here first 😂) but rather pointing out the opportunity to get in on the act right at the beginning with a brand new show receiving its premiere at Camberwell’s Golden Goose Theatre.

Written by Brett Snelgrove and Lawrence Carmichael, it’s an attempt to blend the rambunctious energy of street performers with a more theatrical mode of storytelling, not really musical theatre or the dreaded ‘play with songs’ but a Britflick on stage with a banging soundtrack. Jamie is mourning the loss of his guitar-playing dad, turning to busking with his old setlists to honour his memory; Charlie is a more experienced performer, her bucket drumming and self-confidence a shock to Jamie’s system as they repeatedly clash but grow to find unexpected musical chemistry.

As musical meetcutes go, their spiky energy is refreshingly played by Ollie West and Evie Joy Wright, both accomplished musicians and committed performers here, her needling of his tendency to play it safe clearly hitting a sore spot. And in the tradition of all great stories in this genre (I’m mainly talking about the pool scene in Pitch Perfect here), the moment of them coming together with a rocking medley is near-ecstatic. Their efforts to deliver a corporate gig take up perhaps just a little too much time as the final section feels comparatively under-nourished, even as it winds to a beautifully harmonising close.

Carmichael’s direction errs very much towards the playful, particularly where the audience are concerned. It feels more than just a gimmick though, interaction between busker and passer-by being an integral one of course, and it is something which could even be fleshed out more here (I saw an early performance so these ideas were still gestating). Overall, Street Songs feels like a premise with much promise, as much about grief as great songs but exploring both with interest and showcasing two excellent performers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *