‘That’s the way it ought to be’ – Marry Me A Little (Streamed) Review – Barn Theatre

This dreaded second lockdown may have stopped the live run of this new production of ‘Marry Me A Little’ in its tracks, but if this pandemic has proven anything, it is that nothing can stop the Barn Theatre. Within days of closing the production to live audiences, it was announced that the show had been filmed and would be streamed online, and with theatre fans more than happy to watch shows from home at the moment, the news was extremely well received. With songs from some of Sondheim’s most loved shows, all effortlessly performed by Rob Houchen and Celinde Schoenmaker, this new modern take on ‘Marry Me A Little’ is delicious and perfectly formed.

This production tells the story of two lonely New Yorkers, dwelling over the memories of their past relationship as they wonder around their one room apartments of an evening. Both ponder the idea of moving on without the other, both think of what it could have been like had it worked out and both moan over spending yet another evening alone. As the two lonely lovers, Rob Houchen and Celinde Schoenmaker shine. A dream pairing with both showcasing exquisite vocals as they make performing wordy complex Sondheim look easy. Schoenmaker’s take on the title song ‘Marry Me A Little’ was incredible, packed with excitement and emotion whilst Houchen’s performance of ‘Happily Ever After’ is heartbreakingly bittersweet. I think I’ve said this before, but he could sing the dictionary and make it sound out of this world.

Gregor Donnelly’s clever set design combines two very different apartments into one space, allowing Houchen and Schoenmaker to perform side by side whilst remaining in their character’s own little worlds. Sam Spacer-Lane’s staging brilliantly uses the small space in numbers that needed energy but also highlights the softer sadder moments where each character is able to show all of their emotion without leaving their seats. With the pair of performers accompanied by a simple piano only, the focus is purely of the story and the two characters who take us on this hour long emotional rollercoaster that plays with the whole will they, won’t they, what’s going to happen plot lines that are impossible to resist

With songs from ‘Company’, ‘Follies’, ‘A Little Night Music’ and ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum’, the music of this production truly showcases the genius that is Stephen Sondheim. He has this magical ability to put so much true to life emotion into his work, picking apart the details of human life and interaction. Paired with the clever design of this production, complete with a screen behind the action that shows the character’s messages and social media, it all feels fresh and modern whilst remaining very relatable.

This production of Sondheim’s Marry Me A Little is perfectly formed, simplistic in its staging and made to be all about the music and performance. Rob Houchen and Celinde Schoenmaker provide a masterclass in acting through song, taking us along on the journey as they attempt to get over a relationship and move on with their lives. The music is beautifully written and incredibly well performed, and I can only hope that this production finds its way back to the stage after all of this is over.

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