“We only have so much time”
I don’t often make it to drama school productions but an invitation to see The Clockmaker’s Daughter at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance was one I found hard to resist. I loved the Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn musical when I saw it premiere at the Landor last year and whilst we wait patiently for a cast recording (I asked Santa again and I have been a good boy this year…), this felt like an ideal opportunity to revisit the show, appropriate too as Webborn is an alumnus of this very institution.
So, The Clockmaker’s Daughter was presented here by Trinity Laban’s final year Musical Theatre students, with two teams of lead performers sharing the four shows and the rest of the company doing them all. And it’s impressive to think that there’s this much talent to share the roles, especially with the quality of Lucy Elson’s confident turn as the titular Constance. Both vocally and acting-wise, she demonstrated an impressive maturity that could well mark her as one to watch in the future.
Set in the old village of Spindlewood, we find Constance is a young woman unlike any of the others, with a fiercely protective father Abraham who, try as he might, can’t stop the outside world from getting close to their secrets. The benefits of having a full graduating class and a nice theatre to play with (especially compared to the intimacy of the Landor’s stage) came into their own with the communal scenes. Choreography from Jenny Arnold enhanced several scenes and waves of choral backing vocals added a gorgeous texture to several songs.
Clever staging from Amy Yardley used found objects most inventively, recalling Harry Potter at one point (I wonder if that was intentional!) and Tony Castro’s band of four impressively reminded me how much I enjoyed Webborn and Finn’s score – the Celtic tinges of Craig Lutton’s percussion standing out though making it something of a shame that Michael Howcroft’s production opted for a generic Northernly-accented feel.
And performance-wise, I loved the vivacious work from Lori-Jane McLare’s Ma Riley, the kind of broad character you can really get stuck into and she does so with gusto, Elize Layton’s Amelia radiates a lovely decency as does Tom Ramsey’s Will, the boy who it turns out will do anything for love, never better than in his duet with Elson on the shimmering ‘If You Could See My Heart’. Abraham is an enigmatic part that needs careful handling in the depths and darkness of his grief, thus it’s a difficult part for a younger actor but something that will undoubtedly come with experience and I did enjoy the quality of Elliot Coombe’s voice.
Impressive work then from an impressive company, and a great opportunity to revisit a show that really does deserve wider acclaim and a higher profile.