“The boys have gonorrhea, now they burn for you each time they pee”
Not really being a fan of rock musicals, I didn’t make the journey to the Union Theatre to see Bare earlier this year and I was kind of reluctant to go and see its belated transfer to the Greenwich Theatre. And true to form, it really wasn’t my cup of tea. A cast of bright young things sing well and deliver a great level of performance but the show, written by Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo, feels dated both dramatically and musically, its off-Broadway high-school charms very much eluding me.
Set in the senior class of a Catholic high school, these 17 year olds race towards graduation whilst battling with issues of sexuality and identity, religion and reality, all the while rehearsing a production of Romeo and Juliet which ham-fistedly reflects the tortured inter-relations between this tangled group. Clunky comedy turns into deficient drama as boy meets closeted boy meets girl, but the nearly entirely sung-through lyrics rarely give such an emotive issue as homosexuality in high schools the sensitivity and complexity it deserves.
Intrabartolo’s melodies are serviceable if a little bland but fortunately the quality of Paul Taylor-Mills’ cast elevate it to something worth catching. Michael Vinsen and Ross William Wild make an excellent couple as Peter and Jason, intense chemistry brooding between them and two beautifully complementary voices; Jodie Steele and Molly Stewart as Ivy and Nadia both show maturity beyond their years and Claudia Kariuki has fun with the ‘gimme’ role of Sister Chantelle. Bare was never going to be my cup of tea but the performance level made it a much more tolerable evening than I had anticipated.