'Palindrome' Review: ★★★★

Performance Review

Full of elegant compositions, powerful performances and a heartwarming message, Palindrome’s success is in its simplicity and execution.

Luna Jarvis

The narrative arc of saving community spaces, such as the rec centre, dance studio or in Palindrome’s case, the post office, is a trope ubiquitous in cheesy noughties flicks but for good reason. The joy of these well-loved movies echoes throughout this musical that, despite its cliches, spreads joy and warmth through an eager audience. Full of elegant compositions, powerful performances and a heartwarming take-home message, Palindrome’s success is in its simplicity and execution.

The music in the show was outstanding, with a talented band supporting the cast in the range of well-written contemporary musical theatre anthems. With exciting ensemble numbers and a few other very strong confessional solo pieces, the score provided well-needed momentum throughout the performance. The strongest of these was the mother-daughter duet ‘Hard to Love You’, which expressed all the grief and frustration of not understanding your own daughter. This poignant composition was done justice by the elegant harmonies and the endearing performances of the pair.

The show felt the weakest in its eponymous palindrome theme. Through Hannah’s eyes, the world is understood backwards, an interesting idea that had great potential to update an otherwise formulaic plot to new, exciting places. However, this was not taken advantage of and could be explored in much more depth. It felt, at times, disconnected from the main story and I was left wanting more from the premise. Similarly, the set, lighting and sound design all could have been treated with the same care the score and performances were. The scene changes felt clunky and unnecessary, and a more pared-down but stylistic set, perhaps embracing the warehouse aesthetic, would have elevated the piece.

Vocally, the show was packed full of strong performances, notably, Louella Lucas’s Hannah, whose gentle and lyrical voice gave a nice contrast to the brash vocal effects that often plague modern musicals. The acting at times felt inconsistent, however, this almost added to the 2000s cheesy joy. Only one actor attempted a Scottish accent which felt unnecessary and disjointed with the others’ naturalistic performances. Overall, though, the chemistry between the familial relationships, awkward doting and tight friendship group dynamics was felt and gave a strong emotional backing to the subject matter.

To leave a show smiling is perhaps the most important accolade, and Palindrome achieved that for everyone in the audience. A classic tale of friendship, families, and community, it’s hard to dislike a musical that is so unapologetically full of joy.

Palindrome is on until 26th August at 16:50 at The Space on Niddry Street.


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