Before crowds made their way into The Union for St Patrick's Day celebrations, I headed into The Byre for the premiere of St Andrews’ new student-led musical Double Crossed. As part of the On The Rocks arts festival, the new musical written by Matthew Torkington and directed by Margot Pue, was given a promising debut prior to its upcoming run at the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe festival this summer.
The new musical which focuses on the adventurous final case of legendary ex-Inspector Langham (Aaron Wafflart), whisking him away from his comfortable London home to a rural village in Wales named ‘Llanlyswyth’, where he is teamed up with the comical Inspector Morse (Max Fryer) and local detective Cora (Katie Harvey) to solve the mystery of the missing church fund, though it becomes apparent that the trivial case is more than what it appears.
Wafflart’s no-nonsense Langham is the central character of the piece, though his rather bleak character falters against the buffoonery brought on by Fryer’s Morse who becomes an instant crowd pleaser with the audience. This was, however, overcome by Wafflart’s strong vocals in the dramatic song ‘B.I.A.N.C.I’, where Langham learns that his past enemy Sebastian Bianci has returned to bring him down. Wafflart performed the number with an ease and highlighted the fire still present within the retired Langham.
Max Fryer who plays the pompous Morse maintains the show’s pace and his characterisation is tremendous, with the sleaziness of Morse acting as a satirical commentary on the male chauvinism still present in society. Fryer’s comedic timing is impeccable, gaining many laughs from the audience. Katie Harvey is equally as convincing as Constable Cora who questions her place within the small Welsh village. Harvey’s portrayal contained emotional vulnerability and strong-willed feminism, both complimented by her impressive vocals, where she became a force on stage.
The musical’s book does not shy away from clichés which often added to the humour of the piece, though I felt at times these began to hinder the plot which became predictable and I found certain aspects like the romance between Langham and Cora to be forced. However, the scriptwriters are undoubtedly clever as they intertwine current issues such as misogyny in the workplace, in order to ensure the comedy remains contemporary.
Matthew Torkington’s score is sheer brilliance and particularly admirable given the task of writing a musical is no easy feat. The show’s rapturous opening in the song ‘Pitch Black’ performed by criminals Bianci (Joe Cohen) and Arla (Sarah McDowell) immediately sets the tone for Torkington’s catalogue of catchiness, aided by the superb vocals of the pair. Double Crossed well establishes Torkington as an intelligent writer with a clear passion for music, evident in the rousing finale number ‘Brand New’, lead by Katie Harvey.
Double Crossed is an energetic musical featuring an immensely talented group of actors and musicians, headed by a praiseworthy creative team. As a musical in its early days, it is certainly commendable and I send the team all the best in the show’s journey.